Mary A Is ten Johnson
Peter H. Clonts
Michael J. A I wan
Dr. Richard Raymond
Armstrong State College
A Unit of the University System of Georgia
This edition of Calliope could not have been possible without the help
of several ASC students and faculty members, including Dr. Robert
Strozier, Mr. Richard Nordquist, Mary Johnson, Peter Clonts, and Michael
Alwan. Our thanks go to each of them for their patience and assistance.
We especially appreciate the support of our Faculty Advisor, Dr. Richard
Because of the precedents established by the 1984 edition of Calliope,
we were challenged to produce an outstanding magazine, and the fine quali-
ty of writing and artwork submitted for consideration this year made the
task a relatively easy one, the hardest part being deciding what had to be left
out due to space limitations. We encourage all of the artists who supported
this edition and all of the other students, faculty, and staff of Armstrong to
help with future editions of Calliope as writers, artists, editors, advisors,
and readers. The 1985 edition of Calliope has been a pleasure to put
together and a great opportunity for gaining valuable experience in editing,
layout, and management of time, space, and funds.
We gratefully acknowledge the generous contribution of the Lillian
Spencer and Frank W. Spencer Foundation which made the award for the
best submission to Calliope possible.
This edition of Calliope is dedicated to Dr. Hugh Pendexter, and Miss
Lorraine Anchors for their continuing support of Armstrong State College,
and to the alumni of Armstrong in recognition of the college's fiftieth an-
niversary celebration this year.
Photo on previous pages by Liz Bailey
THE GREEN FUSE
OUT WEST, AT LAST
AN EXPLICATION OF' 'ARDOUR AND MEMORY"
Shy la Nambiar
WHAT'S IN A CAP?
THE TENDER YEARS
BOYHOOD INTO SYMBOL: THE
CHARACTERIZATION OF TOM
SAWYER AND HUCKLEBERRY FINN
DO I DARE, AND, DO I DARE?'
BEHIND CELLAR DOORS
Anna Crowe Dewart
Steve Ealy Calliope, 5
J. Thomas Maddox
7. Thomas Maddox
NOW I LAY ME...
SHADES OF GRAY
POMP AND PAGEANTRY
TIME IS THE ESSENCE OF LIFE
SHAPES TO FILL A LACK
NOT JUST ANOTHER ORDINARY LOVE STORY
Anna Crowe Dewart
A FISH STORY
ROSES BLOOMING SILENTLY..."
THE STORY BOX
Painting by Mary A Is ten Johnson
THE GREEN FUSE
OUT WEST, AT LAST
He's call in' boy,
don' wait 'roun'.
That's the big boss foreman
an' he's a standing there waiting.
He wants you now babe.
He's the headman wrangler
and he's definitely put the word on down.
So drop what you're doin',
it's time to split.
When the first cook is callin'
it is no time to be late.
The Chief Sitting Bull Custer Hating Redman
wants u all there;
for that last Little Big Horn,
amongst spears and arrows,
carbine bullets and stampeding horses.
It is no time to wait.
Git movin'! Don't WAIT.
Everyone knows when his time's here
and when yours comes,
Just race it to the death.
AN EXPLICATION OF "ARDOUR
Rosetti's sonnet, 4 'Ardour and Memory," centers on a reconciliation
of life and death. Both states are found to be inherent in each other and to
form a cycle which recurs eternally. Though the natural phenomena
described in the poem are marked by transitoriness, they acquire per-
manence by belonging to a process characterized by recurrence and con-
tinuity. In human beings, the passionate state and the mental faculty of
memory reflect the theme of permanence in ephemerality and the close in-
terconnection between life and death emphasized through the poem's lush
The choice of the Petrarchan form for this sonnet is appropriate
because the form elicits, through its structure, a response analogous to some
of the poem's themes. A Petrarchan sonnet is composed of an octave, a
turn, and a sestet. The octave in this sonnet consists of an uninterrupted
flow of images referring to sexuality and life, and the accumulation of these
images builds a steady sense of pressure. The intensity is released at the turn
as the speaker explains that the occurences in the natural world cataloged
are what "ardour loves, and memory "(line 9). An anti-climax then takes
place in the sestet which allows the speaker to reach a philosophical resolu-
tion to the problem of life and loss. The progression from pressure to
release and anti-climax intrinsic in the Petrarchan form is similar to the
stages undergone during an emotional experience or a sexual encounter.
Certain devices that also render themes concrete are personification
and the use of elongated vowels. Personifying natural elements reinforces
the sense of life and motion stressed in the octave. The cuckoo-throb is call-
ed "the heart-beat of the Spring"(line 1), "summer clouds... visit every
wing"(line 4), and streams of light are "furtive" and "flickering"(line 6).
The majority of vowels in the sonnet are long and drawn-out, supporting
through sound a slowness, sensuousness, and luxuriance that accord with
the richness and fertility of Nature.
Sexuality and fertility, from which life is derived, are represented by
color imagery, specifically references to red. The rosebud's blush (line 2),
the fires of sunrise and sunset (line 5), and the flush of ruddiness (line 13)
are all shades of red, and they connote passion, warmth, and sexuality, as
does the reference to the "lusts" of the morning (line 7). Birth, life's begin-
ning, is signified through Spring and the morning when light (another sym-
bol of life) is "re-born"(line 6). The speaker sees Nature as a continuous
cycle of birth, maturity, and death. The cuckoo-throb and the heartbeat are
rhythmic sounds suggesting pattern. The seasons mentioned in the poem
also represent a rhythm. The poem begins with spring, a time of renewal
and the awakening of new life. It then proceeds to summer, a season of
maturity, in line four. Though no season is mentioned in the sestet, the
absence of the rose flower hints at autumn and the coming of winter. The
ceaseless pattern present in seasonal and daily change is stressed through the
imagery of music. The cuckoo's throb (line 1), the birdsongs (line 8), and
the ditties and dirges (line 14) reflect rhythm and pattern, which music is
Though the imagery of the octave expresses life, ardor, and vitality, the
death that is naturally concomitant with them is also suggested. As the
rosebud matures into the full-grown flower that it must, it loses the blush of
youth and vibrancy. The summer clouds that touch objects with the colors
of the sunrise also touch them with those of sunset, implying that life and
death are rooted in the same source. The interrelationship that exists bet-
ween the two states is even found in the ambiguous use of the word "flicker-
ing." Flickering can mean a coming into being ~ a flickering into life - or
an extinguishing of it - the flickering out of life. Words and images per-
taining to death prefigure the loss made explicit in the sestet, where that loss
is expressed through references to flight. All joys are "flown"(line 9) and
the wind "swoops onward brandishing the light"(line 9) through the forest
boughs that are dark (a shade symbolic of death). However, though these
images accentuate death, the speaker affirms life again by asserting that
"Even yet the rose-tree's verdure left alone/ Will flush all ruddy though the
rose be gone"(lines 13-14). These lines explain the idea of central impor-
tance in the poem and link two main threads running through it.
Underlying "Ardour and Memory" is a perception of life and death as
being inextricably bound together. It appears in the physical world as a
continuous rhythmic cycle in which living creatures undergo the cycle of
birth and death. The process is circular and, as expressed in lines thirteen
and fourteen, death leaves incipient life in its wake, by which the cycle will
begin again. The seasons will recur. The sun will rise, pass through the sky,
set, and rise again; the rosebud will bloom, die, and be reborn next spring.
A larger state of immutability serves as a basis for transcience and apparent
Ardor and memory are human states that counterpart nature's life cy-
cle. Ardor is great intensity of emotion or desire, an immediate and vital ex-
perience destined to evanescence. However, the power of memory
establishes permanence to the intense moment by means of the mind's abili-
ty to recollect past experiences. Though the moment is gone forever, it can
be "re-lived" and the recollection functions as compensation. As the innate
quality of an intense experience is transcience, so the innate quality of
memory is permanence. The speaker equates ardor with life, passion, and
pleasure. Memory, though it takes a form of life through the power of
recollection, is similar to death in that it requires distance from the im-
mediate experience. Therefore, memory reconciles life and death.
WHAT'S IN A CAP?
/ was thinking back to my high school days,
And how nursing had entered my mind.
I thought of the caps and the treatment trays,
And the letters "R.N." I would sign.
I thought of the uniforms white as could be,
And the pin with the letters engraved.
Yet, how could I know or how could I see,
That Nursing's a road that you pave.
It's not your name, it's not your looks,
Or your voice or your hair or your eyes.
It isn't just marks, it isn't just books,
Or the early hour that you rise.
It's the smile that a patient had when you're done,
It's the "thank-you" that he gives you for his life.
It's the cry of the newborn as he becomes one
Of this great new world and its strife.
It's the mother whose family awaits her return,
Or the father who's too young to die.
It's the big and the little things that you learn,
It's the many times you ask why?"
It's not the cap but the head underneath,
That makes the Nurse what she is.
It's not the colored band or the high honored seat,
It's the heart that goes with all this.
THE TENDER YEARS
I can vividly remember those tender years of my early childhood: I was
the youngest and least attractive of six siblings. My mother wasted no af-
fection on me; rather, she showed me hardship and humiliation. Particular-
ly, I recall my first day of elementary school; in fact, it shall remain etched
in my mind for the duration of my life. I skipped hurriedly home with my
bright red apple, which I had finger painted with water colors. Beaming
with pride, unaware that I had streaks of red paint down the front of my
dress, I handed the picture to my mother. Anticipating her delight, I was
not prepared for what happened, for instead of joy, she shrieked as if in
distress. "Why did you mess up that dress? You are so stupid!" she
screamed. I wheeled and ran to my backyard treehouse, where I could still
hear her hollering, "Come back here or I'll tan your hide good!" Needless
to say, I stayed up there whimpering until way past dark; in the meantime,
I'd missed supper and subsequently was sent to bed without it.
By the time I'd reached age sixteen my brothers and sisters had all left
home. My mother dominated me; she told me what to do and what friends
to see. Smirking, as she often did, she said, "One day you'll thank me for
At age nineteen I knew I had to leave home. Confronting her one day,
I screamed through trembling lips, fighting back tears, "You don't love me
and you never will. All those years when I was a little girl you never hugged
me when I cried or patted me when I did something good. I can't live here
anymore; I have to leave." At that moment, I could hear the pounding of
my own heart. It took every ounce of gumption I ever possessed to utter
those words to my mother, who stood there speechless. Suddenly she look-
ed so lost and alone. With her hair tied back in a bun, I hadn't realized how
grey it had gotten around the temples. I noticed the deep lines across her
brow and the deep circles under her eyes, where a tear ran silently down her
cheek; she didn't bother to brush it away. She had on the green "over the
shoulder" apron I'd given her for Christmas four years ago; it was faded
almost white now, and I noticed two small gravy stains on the left pocket.
"I love you child," were her only words - words I'd never heard her say
before. She said nothing more, so I left the following day, and she didn't
try to stop me.
The years passed quickly while I was away. I got married and had a
family whom I lost in a tragic automobile accident. I returned to my
mother's home only because I had nowhere else to go; surprisingly, she
welcomed me with open arms. We embraced for a long time, tears flowing
freely; at that moment, all the old feelings of bitterness and resentment
vanished, and I loved her more than I'd ever realized I could. Suddenly she
released me, fell to her knees while hugging my legs and lifted her eyes to the
sky, face shining with tears, and muttered, "Thank you for sending my
child back home to me. I'll never drive her away again." I helped her to
her feet, which were bound up in orthopedic shoes. She was an old lady
now, tired and work-worn; the years had taken their toll on her. She needed
me now, and I vowed that I'd be there to take care of her through her tender
years. I had to go through mine alone.
The tender years are the times in a person's life he is most vulnerable,
the times when loved ones are needed the most and the times when having a
strong shoulder to lean on is essential. These years are not only in
childhood, but in adulthood as well. My tender years, when I was growing
up, were most difficult; I felt so alone all the time. But with the care of a
loving husband, even for so short a time, I was able to put my true feelings
for my mother in perspective. I realized she did what she thought was right;
she did the best she could, and that's all we have a right to ask of anyone.
We now speak openly and freely about those years; she has regrets, but I
don't have any hard feelings.
BOYHOOD INTO SYMBOL: THE
CHARACTERIZATION OF TOM
SAWYER AND HUCKLEBERRY FINN
Like Mark Twain himself, the function of the title characters in first
Tom Sawyer and then later (and to a greater degree) in Huckleberry Finn is
a study in paradox. The books share a subject - the anatomy of boyhood ~
and a deep dedication to the realistic and believable. In this, Twain is a
more deeply hued and developed descendant of the "local color* '
brotherhood. However, the study of boyhood is shaded into a deeper cur-
rent of symbolic duality which anticipates the moral dilemmas of
adulthood. This duality is present within each book (in varying doses) and
between the books, as well, and is founded upon and enhanced by that strict
attention to the literal characteristic of Twain. Twain fairly trumpets the in-
tense care given to this literal "backbone" to his message when he pro-
claims that he has painstakingly used no less than seven Mississippi River
area dialects in Huckleberry Finn. Such attention makes the symbolic
dimension of Twain's characters even more striking in that they are real
people and not pasteboard figures.
However, the character of and the extent to which this foundation
realism leads into the symbolic are the basic points of difference between
Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. Both books are remarkable in their
veracity as to the real life of "the boy" in the nineteenth century. Lionel
Trilling declares that "one element in the greatness of Huckleberry Finn...
and Tom Sawyer is that they succeed first as boy's books."' The freshness
of the portrait is especially striking in comparison with contemporary
counterparts such as the effete Little Lord Fauntleroy of Frances Hodgson
Burnett and the stereotypical "Bad Boys" which were familiar figures in
scolding Sunday School tracts and were further popularized by Thomas
Bailey Aldrich's 1870 book (The Story of a BadBoy).* Twain's boys are liv-
ing, breathing creatures of the species. Yet, this realism does differ in its
distance and point of view. Herein lies the crucial parting between Tom
Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. In this parting, one finds the reason why
symbolism is so pervasive in Huckleberry Finn and not in Tom Sawyer,
although characters are defined and pushed in their respective directions in
the earlier book.
However, Twain denied that even Tom Sawyer was intended as a boy's
book. He tells his friend and editor, William Dean Howells, that "it is not a
boy's book at all. It will only be read by adults. It is only written for
adults."* This judgement proved wrong as the realism and humour proved
a magnet for boys, and Howells convinced Twain to market the book
towards the young audience. Yet, Twain's evaluation is correct in that Tom
Sawyer is certainly adult in its point of view and distance. It is a third per-
son re-telling of accurately remembered aspects of boyhood. T.S. Eliot
comments that its viewpoint resembles "the adult observing the boy... Tom
is... very much the boy that Mark Twain had been; he is remembered and
described as he seemed to his elders, rather than created."' Twain himself
remarks in the preface to Tom Sawyer that "part of my plan has been to
pleasantly remind adults of what they once were themselves ''(Clemens, An-
notated Huckleberry Finn, p. 25). Characteristically, the memories of the
adult stifle the gloomy and allow the rosier and more idyllic facets of that
remembered boyhood to flower. This position is possible because Tom
Sawyer confines itself to a childhood world and deals only in a small part
with adult issues (Clemens, Annotated Huckleberry Finn, p. 29). Twain
summarized the nostalgic aura which surrounds Tom Sawyer:
Schoolboy days are not happier than the days of
after-life, but we look upon them regretfully because
we have forgotten... all the sorrows and privations of
that canonized epoch and remember only its orchard
robberies, its wooden sword pageants and its fishing
In contrast, Huckleberry Finn takes up those aspects of boyhood which
only too grimly and inexorably foreshadow the moral perplexities of the
adult life. The novel is couched in the first person which conveys an imme-
diency and lack of romanticism which involves the reader as a character
rather than as an observer. The personal expression available through first
person provides an empathy and a sense of the boy's thoughts as he is think-
ing them rather than merely the structural framework of that boy's world as
in Tom Sawyer. This particular quality is startlingly apparent when descrip-
tions of sunrises from both Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer are com-
pared. Tom Sawyer's point of view induces a literary, imposed impression
whilst Huckleberry Finn is the sunrise through the boy's own vernacular.
For example, in Tom Sawyer "a grey squirrel and a big fellow of the fox
kind came slurrying along sitting up at intervals to inspect and chatter at
the boys." In Huckleberry Finn, a similar aspect of the sunrise scene is dealt
with in this way: "a couple of squirrels sat on a limb and jabbered at me
very friendly "(Blair, p. 74).
This plain, unadorned prose in Huckleberry Finn is a fitting accom-
paniment to its tone and harsher issues. Doc Robertson's murder and Injun
Joe's horrible death through starvation are certainly evidence of ugly adult
realities, but these events have the almost comforting quality of the
melodrama in that Injun Joe is clearly all bad against good as represented
by Tom and the society. There is none of the uneasy ambivalence of such
characters as the Duke and the King or the "chivalrous" Granger fords
here. Tom's life is that of the black and white adventure and the
mischievous rebellion against Aunt Polly's authority through pranks such
as dosing the case with the hated painkiller. But, the Tightness of the
general standards is questioned neither by Tom nor Twain (Blair, p. 75).
Despite his boyish unruliness, Tom is "wholly a social being" who has "an
environment into which he fits"(Eliot, p. 329). The movement of Tom
Sawyer carries from childish revolt to a "triumphant confirmation of
Tom's membership in the cult of the respectable."' Huck accepts these
standards in Tom Sawyer though they make him uncomfortable and vows
that he "will stick to the widder till I rot,"- if he can then join Tom's gang.
Still, Huck is a social outcast and, thus, is free from the bonds of conven-
tion that confine Tom. Huck "did not have to go to school or church, or
call any being master or obey anybody... he never had to wash or put on
clean clothes"(Clemens, Tom Sawyer, p. 62). Townsfolk comment that
"Huck Finn ain't a name to open many doors, I judge!" (Clemens, Tom
Sawyer, p. 233). But, this societal censure gives Huck the freedom and
potential to examine society, if innocently, in a manner that Tom never
could with his hampering role in society and overweening imagination
In other words, in Tom Sawyer the potential for symbol is laid, but not
developed. There is no need for it in the type of book that Tom Sawyer is.
The use of Huck as the major character in Twain's "sequel" to Tom
Sawyer is surely indicative of Twain's realization that Huck could tackle
issues through his pragmatism and position outside society in a way denied
to Tom, the very product of civilization. Twain says frankly that if he took
Tom on into manhood "he would just lie like all the one-horse men in
literature and the reader would develop a hearty contempt for
him"(Clemens, Letters, p. 86). Tom is clearly already possessed by the
dreadful "Walter Scott disease" (Clemens, Annotated Huckleberry Finn,
p. 139) which had (according to Twain) taken hold of the nineteenth century
imagination - particularly that of the "Old South" variety. Huck, on the
other hand, possesses an uninfiltrated consciousness and pragmatism that
demand a kindness and logic which have been milked out of civilization.
He can watch the punishment of the Duke and King which can certainly be
justified and yet comment that he was "sorry for them poor, pitiful
rascals... human beings can be awful cruel to one another"(Clemens,
Huckleberry Finn, p. 182).
This basic "romantic-realistic quarrel"' is meat for Twain's artistic
palate because this dichotomy is illustrated best in Twain himself. The
romantic, exalted Tom in him sees man as a subject for humour and merri-
ment and dwells upon the boyhood dreams which rolled along with the
Mississippi's currents. He is, then, "Tom Sawyer grown-up" in some ways,
and the appeal of the beacons of success, applause, and universal approval
is expressed in his donning of the role of popular "humourist and even
clown"(Eliot, p. 330). As Huck says: "Tom had his store clothes on, and
an audience -and that was always nuts for Tom Sawyer"(Clemens,
Huckleberry Finn, p. 179). This sentimental and romantic side of Twain
produced the imaginative veil which built Tom Sawyer and gloried in "cir-
cuses, revival meetings, minstrel shows... and patriotic holidays celebrated
with spread-eagle speeches.""
However, Twain's Tom lacks autonomy because of the Huck that also
dwells in Twain. This Huck sees past life's glittering veneer and perceives
the evil and heart-soreness of human existence. He possesses the roman-
ticism of Thoreau rather than that of Scott. He looks not at the laws, but at
their effectiveness and their capacity for good. He, thus, bypasses mindless
attention to tradition through his role as observer and outcast. Twain as
Huck could not forget the dark intrusions of adulthood that shadowed his
boyhood and embittered him in later adult life into skepticism and criticism
of social institutions. Such experiences in Huckleberry Finn as the
Sherburn-Boggs duel, the lynching and hunting down of runaway slaves,
and such seamy characters as the town drunkard, Pap Finn (known in
Hanibal, Twain's hometown, as Jimmy Finn) were based upon Twain's
darker memories (Clemens, Annotated Huckleberry Finn, p. 56).
As a base for Huckleberry Finn's sequences, Twain saw or heard of, in
his boyhood, "practical jokes brutal enough to unhinge their victims, in-
sanity, the beaten lives of squatters and derelicts, hangings, drownings,
rapes, lynchings, terminal alcoholism and murders'' (Kaplan, p. 24). All of
this grimness occurred in the passage of a childhood in that same sleepy
town of Hannibal which had smiled so benevolently on Tom Sawyer as the
town of Saint Petersburg in Tom Sawyer. This dichotomy of outlook and
experience affected the course of Twain's art and is a major source of
dynamic tension in Huckleberry Finn. Twain's writing may, thus, be seen
as an indulging and then fighting back of the idealistic-romantic impulse.
As has been hinted, this impulse is fed by forcing the idealism of
"bookishness" into life rather than the true moral character of life into
books. All of Tom's pirate, detective, and "blood and thunder" reading is
used as fodder for the vat of Tom's imagination (Clemens, Annotated
Huckleberry Finn, p. 28). But, Twain heaps the most scorn and attributes
the most damage to those books with pretensions such as those by Sir
Walter Scott, James Fennimore Cooper, Cervantes, and The Arabian
Nights. Twain's essay lambasting the general illogicality and pure bad
writing demonstrated by Cooper is well-known. In Huckleberry Finn, he
gives Tom that old "Cooper Indian" trick of betraying himself by stepping
on a dry twig (Clemens, Annotated Huckleberry Finn, p. 62). The Walter
Scott symbolically founders as a steamboat revealing Twain's disgust with
that author who "set the world in love with dreams and phantoms... with
the silliness and emptinesses, sham grandeurs, sham gauds, and sham
chivalries of a brainless and worthless long-vanished society" (Clemens,
Annotated Huckleberry Finn, p. 1 39). As Twain complained when trapped
in a sick-bed with Scott: "It is impossible to feel an interest in these
bloodless shams, these milk and water humbugs" (Clemens, Letters, p.
276). For Twain, Scott is the bombastic father of the Colonel Granger-
fords and Tom Sawyers.
Similarly the deluded Don Quixote is invoked by Tom's ambuscade of
a Sunday School picnic which he paints up to historical chronicle propor-
tions. Also, Tom's relationship to Huck in Huckleberry Finn (and Tom
Sawyer to some degree) echoes that of Don Quixote and the matter-of-fact
Sancho Panza who is more concerned with dinner than derring-do. In just
such a way, Tom exhorts the dubious Huck to rub an old tin lamp for genie-
conjuring purposes, in a reference to The Arabian Nights (Clemens, An-
notated HucKleberry Finn, p. 73-74).
If Tom uses these literary opiates to cope with the moral issues of life
such as slavery, Huck as "the most solitary figure in fiction" (Eliot, p. 329)
has to come up with his own fresh perceptions separated as he is from socie-
ty. Huck can only judge things from common sense and experience. He
may take the role of Tom or Miss Watson in "educating" Jim about kings
or the French language, but Huck never lets this artificial role carry on from
talk into action. When he has to do something, he simply does whatever has
to be done in order to do it. When he sees that his patronizing and superior
attitude toward Jim is cruel and harmful, he goes against the whole society
and "humbles himself to a nigger"(Clemens, Annotated Huckleberry Finn,
pp. 150-152). When he lies, he does so in order to save himself or Jim from
very real danger in contrast to Tom who keeps back his knowledge of Jim's
free status in order to satisfy his craving for a liberation-adventure. When
Tom exclaims that he wanted "the adventure of it" and would have "wad-
ed neck-deep in blood to" get it (Clemens, Annotated Huckleberry Finn, p.
226) his lie seems to be an incredibly vicious playing with the freedom that
Huck and Jim have struggled so desperately (physically and psychological-
ly) to gain."
It is quite true that Huck's natural tendencies lie toward pleasure, the
easy and uncomplicated escape from conscience, and a general antipathy
toward cruelty rather than toward the development of a genuine Northern
abolitionist conscience, as the critic, James M. Cox, points out. » Huck ex-
hibits these qualities when he shows his repulsion at the extreme punishment
of the confidence-men and the final battle of the feud. "It made me so sick
I most fell out of the tree," he confesses about his witnessing of Buck
Grangerford's death (Clemens, Huckleberry Finn, p. 94).
However, it is the very turning from such society-sanctioned
viciousness that points to the good, untainted heart which, eventually,
allows Huck to reject the machinery of that cruelty in his declaration, "All
right, then, I'll go to hell!" (Clemens, Huckleberry Finn, p. 69) which is
essentially a moral decision despite his passionate wish for no conscience.
Cox portrays this statement as a betrayal and return to the moral
framework of society from the natural pleasure principle; but truly this
statement can certainly be more likely viewed as the product of Huck's turn-
ing from cruelty rather than the reversal of it (Cox, "Uncomfortable En-
ding," pp. 355-356).
This discussion of the symbolic nature and development of Tom and
Huck leads, inevitably, to a consideration of the controversial ending of
Huckleberry Finn, in which this symbolic dichotomy comes to an uncom-
forting climax. This ending has aroused a veritable flood of critical opi-
nions ranging from full or qualified approval to a dissatisfied disapproval.
Much is said here about the disharmony in tone resulting from Tom taking
center stage here which moves the stylistic quality away from the tumultous,
yet lyrical, sun-dappled days on the river which form the book's mid-
section. The adult concerns of the journey are suddenly turned over to a
child. Lionel Trilling explains that this ending is a purposeful device to
retreat Huck to the background as he is not suited "to the attention and
glamour which attended a hero at book's end" (Trilling, p. 326) in contrast
to Tom's flamboyance. Eliot promotes the end as a cyclical reorientation to
the mood of the Tom Sawyerish beginning (Eliot, p. 334).
However, a great many critics have severely criticised the end. Hem-
ingway despised the section and advised that the reader "must stop where
Nigger Jim is stolen from the boys. That is the real end. The rest is just
cheating" (Clemens, Annotated Huckleberry Finn, p. 48). Leo Marx
chides Eliot and Trilling and charges Twain with insufficient courage in
dealing with the ill-fated end of a doomed search for freedom in a basically
chained society." Yet, after study of the symbolic characterization of Tom
and Huck in Huckleberry Finn, the most plausible view of the ending lies in
an expansion of this symbolic dimension. Thomas Arthur Gullason, Roy
Harvey Pearce and Judith Fetterley (the last two in detail) support this basic
thesis. In this scheme, Tom's reappearance at the Phelpes' farm after
Huck's crucial moral statement is a foil device which underlines the com-
plete condemnation of society's "sivilized" ways and results in Huck's final
intention to "light out ahead of the rest."- Tom's appearance at the begin-
ning of Huckleberry Finn is in keeping with the foolish idealism so strongly
debunked in the end, but the implications and consequences of his behavior
take on a new light in the closing section. These serious consequences of
romanticism are tied in with the general themes of man's inhumanity to
man and the affirmation of Jim's human worth (he saves Tom despite
Tom's treatment of him)(Gullason, p. 87).
How does Tom's behavior differ so radically here from his youthful hi-
jinks in the beginning? Well, Tom's actions in the first portion may finally
become too far-fetched and unsatisfying for his gang (they disband), but
these actions never seriously harm anyone and they do not tamper with so
serious an issue as the freedom of a man (Gullason, pp. 89-90). As Judith
Fetterley points out, there is a great deal of difference between giving a sob-
bing youngster a nickel to keep quiet about imaginary robbery plans and
reimbursing Jim with forty dollars for his very freedom and peace of mind
(Fetterley, p. 445).
The middle matter of the book undertakes this shift from the world of
childish recklessness into adult problems and problem adults. Huck strug-
gles with the cornerstones of society and makes his declaration. He is, con-
sistently, disgusted with the behavior that he sees along the river, but keeps
a fond vision of Tom and often wonders what Tom would do in a certain
situation. When he (Huck) and Jim discover the wrecked Walter Scott,
Huck muses, "Do you reckon Tom Sawyer would ever go by this thing? ...
He'd call it an adventure... and he'd land on that wreck if it was his last
act... I wish Tom Sawyer was here" (Clemens, Huckleberry Finn, p. 57).
Of course, Huck has Tom Sawyers all around him; he just has not realized
this fact. He does not connect the civilized brutes that he encounters with
an adult extension of the Tom Sawyeresque view of the world.
Nevertheless, upon retrospect, analogue characters throughout the
river journey foreshadow the new perspective of the reader on Tom Sawyer
in the last section. Such characters include Miss Watson, the King and the
Duke, and especially the Grangerfords. All of these characters use tradition
and genteel ways to conceal their own native brutality from others. Miss
Watson, the con men, and Tom accept things because that was the way that
things were written down, whether in the Bible or in romance novels. The
con men use literary pretensions (Shakespeare's plays) and noble titles to
glorify themselves and make money, although they certainly don't delude
themselves as Tom does. They merely prey on others' stupidity. However,
it is the Grangerfords' "code of honor" that calls up Tom the most. They
bow to each other, turn to face the bullets, and pay strict attention to feud
protocol. Behind this lies black hypocrisy and grim death (Fetterley, pp.
All through the trip down the Mississippi, these characters' basic bar-
barity is contrasted with Huck's clear-eyed, if not judgemental, view of
them. Huck is forced to deal with adult issues and to take a stand. He
chooses to reject the rules of the society and to follow what seems instinc-
tively right to him. But he does not yet correlate these adults with their
germ in Tom Sawyer. So, in the last section when Huck meets his old
friend, he is glad to turn things over to him. Huck has so much faith in and
respect for Tom that he is even a bit shocked that "a boy who was respec-
table and well-brung-up" (Clemens, Huckleberry Finn, p. 184) would buck
society as he himself is doing. As mature as Huck has become, he never
dreams that childish silliness lies behind this supposed earnestness and that
Tom knows that he is setting a freed man free. Thus, the basic static
character of Tom is set against the dynamic one of Huck and is clearly sym-
bolic of that society Huck has met along the river. Tom is a child, but
heretofore he has only dealt with equally childish matters, and his handling
of the crucial matter of Jim's freedom is horrifying in light of the insights
given to Huck and the reader in the mid-section (Gullason, pp. 89-90).
Tom can no longer be seen as a harmless child, but as a very harmful
potential adult who will be at least as blindly insensitive as "good people"
like the Phelpes' (Marx, p. 343) and perhaps as dangerous as the murderous
Grangerfords. Huck argues with Tom's impractical escape plans and
though he seems to give in, his disillusionment is encapsulated in his avowal
to "light out" to the Territory before the others. He has thoroughly
recognized and rejected the hypocrites, such as Tom, who make up the
civilizing influence (Gullason, p. 90).
Thus, although the end is, perhaps, overly long and farcical, the view-
ing of it from the symbolic perspective can give a clue into Twain's pur-
poses. Twain makes boyhood real, and throws some meaning in there to
heighten the flavor. The realistic handling of Tom and Huck is what makes
the reader take the symbolism to heart. In Huckleberry Finn, Twain lays
bare the hearts of his characters, the soul of society, and his own spirit.
Samuel Langhorne Clemens, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,
ed. Scully Bradley et al. (New York, London: W.W.Norton and Company,
1977), p. 2 (hereafter referred to in the text as Huckleberry Finn).
>Samuel L. Clemens, The Annotated Huckleberry Finn, with in-
troduction, notes, and bibliography by Michael Patrick Hearn (New York:
Clarkson N. Potter, Inc., 1981), pp.26-27 (hereafter referred to in the text
as Annotated Huckleberry Finn).
'Lionel Trilling, "The Greatness of Huckleberry Finn," cited in
Samuel L. Clemens, Huckleberry Finn (New York, London: W.W.Norton
and Company, 1977), p. 319 (hereafter referred to in the text as Trilling).
•Samuel L. Clemens, The Selected Letters of Mark Twain, ed. with
an introduction and commentary by Charles Neider (New York: Harper
and Row, 1982), p. 86 (hereafter referred to in the text as Letters).
'T.S. Eliot, "An Introduction to Huckleberry Finn" cited in Samuel
L. Clemens, Huckleberry Finn (New York, London: W.W.Norton and
Company, 1977), p. 329 (hereafter referred to in the text as Eliot).
'Walter Blair, Mark Twain and Huck Finn (Berkeley and Los
Angeles: University of California Press, 1962), p. 56 (hereafter referred to
in the text as Blair).
James M. Cox, "Remarks on the Sad Initiation of Huckleberry
Finn," cited in Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn: Problems in American
Civilization (Boston: P.C. Heath and Company, 1959), p. 67.
•Samuel L. Clemens, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (New York:
The Heritage Reprints, 1936), p. 283 (hereafter referred to in the text as
'Thomas Arthur Gullason, "The Fatal Ending of Huckleberry
Finn" American Literature, XXIX, March 1957, p. 89 (hereafter referred
to in the text as Gullason).
Justin Kaplan, Mark Twain and His World (New York: Simon and
Schuster, 1974), p. 23 (hereafter referred to in the text as Kaplan).
Judith Fetterley, "Disenchantment: Tom Sawyer in Huckleberry
Finn" cited in Samuel L. Clemens, Huckleberry Finn (New York, London:
W.W.Norton and Company, 1977), pp. 442, 445-447 (hereafter referred to
in the text as Fetterley).
James M. Cox, "The Uncomfortable Ending of Huckleberry Finn ,"
cited in Samuel L. Clemens, Huckleberry Finn (New York, London:
W.W.Norton and Company, 1977), pp. 354-355 (hereafter referred to in the
text as "Uncomfortable Ending").
Leo Marx, "Mr. Eliot, Mr. Trilling, and Huckleberry Finn ," cited in
Samuel L. Clemens, Huckleberry Finn (New York, London: W.W.Norton
and Company, 1977), p. 347 (hereafter referred to in the text as Marx).
-Roy Harvey Pearce, "The End, Yours Trudy Huckleberry Finn:
Postscript," cited in Samuel L. Clemens, Huckleberry Finn (New York,
London: W.W.Norton and Company, 1977), pp. 361-362.
Photo by Liz Bailey
"DO I DARE, AND, DO I DARE?"
BEHIND CELLAR DOORS
Anna Crowe Dewart
The cellars for storing potatoes lay about the
desert- turned- farmland like Indian mounds and
beckoned to a child of four or five with the same
mysterious offerings. I remember cautiously creep-
ing down the rutted slope toward the great, wooden
doors ~ terrified but unable to stop myself - as if
some special siren were calling me. I would slip
through the doors and stand waiting, peering into the
cold, dark gloom, watching as the form of a great
curve took shape above me, its arc held in place by
huge beams straining against the earth. Sometimes I
had courage enough to edge my way down the sliver
of sunlight just far enough to make out the sepia-
gray speckles of potato-heaps held back from the
black tunnel by enormous staked and slotted boards.
When I dared, I would take a deep breath of the
thick, musty, decaying odor before the dark,
womblike earth-ness of it all compelled me to take
flight, back into the protecting sunlight. I would lean
against the doors, hugging their warmth to my back
and resolve to go much deeper into that vaulted abyss
of inviting terror -- next time. Maybe someday "it"
would not longer "get" me and I could calmly walk
away when I wished, perhaps even go all the way
through, to the other end.
Listlessly the half-closed eyes watch
As a thousand yesterdays slowly melt Into more and more.
What does this mean for us, you ask yourselves -
To you life is just a deadly bore, and the only reality - war.
But I have plans for my life
And while in vain you struggle for change,
I try to stay out of firing range,
But these days an empty trench is hard to find.
I battle to save myself
As a thousand tomorrows trickle down to only a few.
What does this mean for us, you ask yourselves.
I only wish you knew.
Hide in a hole and save yourself trouble
Is my advice for the day.
Then when it's all over, climb over the rubble
And chase the vultures away.
Dragons haunt the dreams of saints:
Smoke and fire curl round their feet
As they pray to God their is, their ain't,
And ask for stout heart to forestall retreat.
Dragons hunt in twilight hours,
When it's too dark to track them down.
They search for bones near ivory towers
Built on the outskirts of small towns.
Dragons hide in daylight bright,
They sleep in dank and musty caves,
They curse the sun that drains their might,
They dream of days of knights and knaves.
Dragons wake as evening nears,
They trim their claws and smooth their scales.
They flourish on man's inmost fears,
They live forever in his tales.
Dragons haunt the dreams of saints,
They haunt the dreams of sinners too,
But the dragon that haunts mankind the most
Is found even in a heart that is true.
R . Ra . Rai . Rain
Glittering in the sky
Like a leaky water faucet carried to infinity
Like the silence in the night
Torturing you to a complete fright.
Rain . Rain . Rain . Rain
Languages spoken together
All birds of a feather
Taking you down there below
With a tone of silent awe.
Rain . Rain . Rain . Rain
Makes you wander about the sky
To a chilled or naked eye
To the fields a potent substance
To us all an unliked fluvience.
Rain . Rai . Ra . R
Melancholically I say, rain causes sorrow and dismay
Rain causes drowsiness and sleep
Rain can hurt you real deep
Makes your mind go back in time
Different places, 1979
Where my images didn't shine
Where happiness was not yet mine.
R. R. R. R ....
Rain suddenly ends
In the mountains, in the plains
Happiness turns into pain
As I wish for some more R.a.i.n.
A spider slid down over my head
And spun a web around my bed
I shouted, "What the heck?
I'm no bloody insect."
That you may be, the spider said.
But your body looked so sweet
All snug in your bed.
This sent cold shivers down my spine
Until finally I realized.
It was only a Nightmare.
J. Thomas Maddox
Seething and smouldering my flesh burns with
My neck and forehead throb.
Wounded I stand and scream with
echoes in my mind:
Purge me, crush me, rake me like the barren earth.
The tides of the earth still flow:
Undulating with waves of shock
buried deep in the still.
Grain against Grain
Stone against stone
Continent against continent
I leap up to the sky and flee like an angel on wing,
until my lungs are pulled tight by the vacuum.
The silence grows and my limbs freeze numb.
Then my heart beats aloud as I reach for the stars,
and a tear like quicksilver rolls down my cheek
The hand of the sphere wrenches my body
and I plunge downward
Through the hot hoary breath of the earth.
The stars fade away and the earth gapes
Wide and devours me whole.
Like a pair of green suspenders
The Bridge stretches
Across the Savannah River.
Oh, you once wore the top hat and tails
Displaying the pride
Of a former Georgia Governor.
Now you lie
And sleep in the sun
Like an old alligator.
Still speak of you,
As "that Big! Big! Bridge."
But the local people
Recall the number of jumpers
That leap into the muddy waters below.
Why do you swallow up
Memories and lives
Spitting them out into the Atlantic Ocean?
Only the sea gulls know
And they're not telling
J. Thomas Maddox
NOW I LAY ME. . .
This work has been selected to receive the Lillian
Spencer and Frank W. Spencer Foundation A ward
for best submission to CALLIOPE.
Sleep. . . I haven't laid my head on a pillow or my body on a bed for
more than four days now, and to be perfectly honest, I don't think I ever
will again. And I don't know whom to blame. Perhaps it doesn't matter
anymore, but if I could throw the guilt on someone or something other than
my own horrendous imagination, I could somehow justify this.
I must explain. . . Less than a week ago, the songs of the birds still
vibrated through my body every morning and shook me from my sleep.
Less than a week ago I still prided myself on my ability to rise with the sun
and jump from my bed without any complaints from my joints or my limbs
or even my mind. And, when night rolled around, I never spent endless
hours tossing and turning and counting sheep. Once my head hit the pillow
my eyes closed and my dreams captured my mind. Yet, after last Sunday,
the birds failed to sing and my dreams failed to conquer the sheep.
Last Sunday morning, like every weekend morning, started out
beautifully. As always, I tiptoed out of bed, careful not to wake my wife,
Jane, and crept downstairs. Then I settled down at the kitchen table with
my orange juice in one hand - I never used to drink coffee - and my paper
in the other. By the time I finished the sports section, I heard the light
footsteps of my daughter. Now, I realize that every man believes that his
daughter is the most perfect little girl in the world, but Jenny is no illusion.
She has the kind of mischievious smile and kind of startling blue eyes that
make other fathers turn to stare at us when we walk down the street. You
can imagine what that does to my ego.
Anyway, by the time Jenny reached the kitchen I was already crouched
behind the door. When she entered, I swooped her up in my arms and lifted
her until her head touched the ceiling. Amid our usual giggles and chuckles
- Jenny chuckles, I giggle - we set about scrambling eggs and browning
toast and mixing more orange juice. Then, like every Sunday morning
before it, we prepared three trays and carried them up to the bedroom. By
the time we reached the top stair, Jane was already dressing for church.
Now, we aren't a particularly religious family in fact, until last Sunday we
hadn't been ambitious enough to spend our favorite day of the week in star-
ched clothes among equally starched people. I guess that was my fault,
though. Jane grew up in a strict Episcopalean home where church was as
important as work or school or even eating and drinking. But after we mar-
ried, my "religious laziness" rubbed off on her. I'm not an atheist; Lord
knows if I were none of this would have happened, and I would be in bed,
sound asleep, right now. I'm just the "silent" type of parishoner. Church
and religion are states of mind to me, rather than traditions and customs
and outward appearances. I don't even pray out loud. My conversations
with God have always been conversations in my mind - as much a "diary to
myself" as a chat with the Heavenly Father. I've always liked it better that
way. Until now. Now I wish that I had paid more attention to formalities. .
But, last Sunday was one of those days when Jane felt guilty for not
making outward appearances, and my usual suggestions of picnics and
matinees weren't working. So, when Jenny said that she wanted to "visit
God too," I pulled my only three-piece suit out of the closet. And of
course, the sermon was as boring as ever; I covered my bulletin with circles
and squares and a good likeness of the minister. I envied Jenny as she cried
goodbye to her teacher -- her arms full of papers and pictures and a "round
thing with my handprint in it for Mommy to hang on the wall." I prayed,
silently of course, to spend my next Sunday in church making handprints
for Mommy's wall.
Actually, the real problem didn't arise until that night. While Jane
tucked Jenny into bed, I sat back on the loveseat, popcorn in hand, and
waited for Star Wars to appear on the screen. Jane and I had seen it five
times, but I wanted to fool around more than anything else anyway. Sud-
denly screams of "No, Mommy, I don't want to say it! No, Mommy, I
won't! No!" interrupted my fantasies. At first I thought that Jenny was
refusing to go to bed, but as her protests increased, I rushed up the stairs.
Apparently, Jane, in her new, saintly mood, had decided to teach Jenny a
bedtime prayer - a lesson that we had neglected up until then. The prayer
was simple enough - a prayer that Jane insisted every little kid learns. I'd
never heard it before, but then, as I've told you, I've always avoided tradi-
tions. And it was a cute little rhyme, at first hearing.
Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
And if I die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.
Jenny recited the first two lines perfectly, but when Jane prompted her
to repeat the rest, she became hysterical. I felt that if Jenny didn't want to
say the rest, we shouldn't press her, but Jane insisted that Jenny was just be-
ing stubborn. This is where I could blame everything on Jane. If she had
just let the matter drop, if she had just let it all alone, if she had not tried to
make the poor kid explain herself, I wouldn't be trying to explain myself.
But Jane has one of those "logical minds"; she must have an explanation
for everything. Unfortunately, I didn't try to stop her logic, and, unfor-
tunately, Jenny's explanation was far too logical itself. At first I had just
repeated the rhyme - mimicked it without listening to the words.
Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
And if I die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.
But we had always taught Jenny to think before she spoke.
"But Mommy," she said, "that's like giving God permission to let me
die. That's like assuming you're gonna die and God might take it wrong.
Mommv. I don't want to die!"
Jane, unable to hold back her laughter, gave up. Red faced, she told
Jenny to forget all about it, have pleasant dreams, and not let the bed bugs
bite - the usual bedtime goodbyes.
Once downstairs, Jane picked up her bowl of popcorn and snuggled
close to me on the loveseat. Obviously, she didn't want to watch Star Wars
a sixth time either. But for some reason I couldn't get that little ditty, that
stupid rhyme, that damn prayer, out of my head:
Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
And if I die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.
For some reason all I could do was stare at Luke Skywalker while I thought,
saw, and heard that prayer over and over in my mind. Jane either gave up
trying to penetrate my thoughts, or grew disgusted with me, because I even-
tually found myself alone, with a full bowl of popcorn in my lap, an empty
one by my side, and the National Anthem blaring at me from the tube. I've
grown to hate that song. . .
Oh say can I lay
Meeee down to sleep. . .
I flipped on the hall light and raced up the stairs; the words grew louder
all the time. When I reached my room and discovered that Jane had pulled
back my sheets and covers so that I could crawl right in, I felt silly.
Childish. Pretty ridiculous. I threw on my pajamas, slid into bed, and
resolved to put the entire night out of my mind. I switched off the light and
closed my eyes, knowing that I would be asleep in a matter of seconds.
Thinking that I would be asleep in a matter of seconds. Wishing that I
could. . .
Now I lay me down to sleep,
be asleep in a. . .
I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
matter of seconds. . .
But if I die before I wake,
It was useless.
I pray the Lord my soul to take.
I might have drifted off to sleep, the prayer might have bored me
enough to make me sleep, yet I began to think about what was actually run-
ning through my head. I kept reciting a prayer ~ a prayer to God - over
and over in my mind. And he was listening! I could hear Jenny's voice,
"No, Mommy, God might take it wrong. No, Mommy, I don't want to
"No, God," I cried, "please don't listen. This isn't what I want to say
-- it's just a dumb, stupid, meaningless ditty. It's just. . ."
I pray the Lord my soul to take.
I knew it was stupid, it was dumb, it was childish. But I couldn't stop
mimicking that damn prayer, couldn't stop praying in my head, couldn't
stop telling God that it was all right to take my soul!
I spent that entire night too scared to go to sleep and too obsessed to be
logical (or illogical) about the entire thing.
The next morning as I dressed for work, Jane rolled her refreshed head
towards me and asked me how I had slept. I couldn't tell her. I couldn't tell
her that I spent the entire night staring into blackness and repeating the
words to a child's prayer over and over in my head. She would have laugh-
ed, or rolled her eyes, or thought that I had lost my mind. So I told her that
I had slept peacefully, then went downstairs to fix myself a cup of coffee. I
drank at least ten cups of the wretched liquid before the day ended.
But it wasn't until later that night, as Jane tucked Jen into bed, that I
began "saying" that cursed prayer again. And the more I thought about
going to sleep, the more I repeated the curse.
Sleep, now I lay me down to
Keep, I pray the Lord my soul to
Wake, and if I die before I
Take, I pray the Lord my soul to. . .
Jumbled, mixed-up, any way I though about it, I still gave the Heaven-
ly Father permission to let me die. It was then that I began to realize that I
was going to die no matter what. I could only go so long without sleep
before God, or something, took my soul anyway.
I pray the Lord my soul to take
Only so long before I would go to sleep
Now I lay me down to sleep,
And never wake up.
And if I die before I wake,
I didn't go to sleep that night. Or the next. Or the next. . . I tried
everything from sleeping pills to nursery rhymes.
Hickory, dickory, dock,
The mouse ran up the clock
And if I die
Before I wake
Hickory, dickory, DEAD!
So here I am. It's now Thursday ~ no, Friday! I think. Five days and
tour nights since that God-awful Sunday. I couldn't hide my terrors from
Jane. When I first told her my predicament she did exactly what I expected.
She laughed, then she rolled her eyes, then she told me I was crazy. Finally,
I began saying the phrases out loud,
Now I lay me down
as we were lying in our bed,
to sleep. I pray the Lord
or between huge gulps of coffee.
my soul to keep. And if I die
Before long I was kneeling at the side of my bed with my hands clasped -my
eyes staring toward the Heavens!
before I wake. I pray the Lord
So Jane packed her bags and took Jenny to a motel.
my soul to take.
So now here I sit, alone, counting the days by the number of times the
National Anthem plays on the tube. My house, which had always been the
safest, most comfortable place in the world, no longer seems like my house.
It had been my haven, my resort, my escape from the pressures of the out-
side world. The ultimate dream ~ right from its white picket fence, to its
yellow kitchen curtains, to its velvety red carpet. The walls always vibrated
with Jenny's soft chuckles, and the air always smelled of roast beef or fresh
bread or apple pie. Oh, but not now. Now that Jane and Jenny are gone,
the fence, with its spiked, ivory pickets, confronts me when I step inside the
gate ~ a row of white teeth inviting me to pass through them into the belly
of their owner. The belly reeks of the yellow bile which covers its openings,
and I must force myself to sit upon the blood-red surface of its interior. No
longer does laughter fill the halls and vibrate in my ears. Only the
methodical words of that damn prayer bounce off the ceiling and the floor
and echo in my soul.
Now I lay me . . .
It's like some horrible nightmare - a nightmare that I can never wake up
from because I never went to sleep in the first place.
Yes, I am probably blowing this whole affair out of proportion. Yet
my mind no longer knows the meaning of proportion. Like the endless
echoing in the air, I'm doomed to stay within this belly, continually bounc-
ing off the blood-red walls while my mind says to me and to God and to
anyone who will listen. . .
Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray dear Lord just let me sleep
And if I die before I sleep
I pray, I pray, I pray. . .sleep. . .
^~"^^^^^^^— ■ Calliope, 35
Drawing by Mary Howard
Chanteur of the false night,
Why does my song
Master of enchanting sounds,
Are your wings made of magic,
Your song a sorcerer's speech?
Oh, what a wretch am I.
I dare not sing nor fly.
The prayers for voice and lifting wing
Have not been answered
I am but a poor man
With a heart of endless scars.
Oh, Sparrow, come and sing
I can crawl and walk and run.
I dare not leave the ground.
I fly, Bird, only when I sleep.
Gift of nature, how I wish I were
SHADES OF GRAY
Tennessee William's Amanda is very human in The Glass Menagerie.
That is, she is inconsistent: she is neither all good nor all bad, but a mixture
of both. She is thoughtfully tender as well as unintentionally cruel. There is
much to admire about Amanda while there is a lot laugh at also. She is ad-
mirable in her tenderness and love for her children. Her love for Tom and
Laura can arouse our pity because of her inability to understand where or
how she has failed them. On the other hand, she is ridiculous and laughable
in her Southern-belle mannerisms and her high expectations for her
children. Amanda is a paradox.
Amanda's Southern-belle mannerisms and her high expectations for
Tom and Laura are both laughable and ridiculous. Amanda lives in
another time period - the Old South, with all its grandeur. The glorious
clothes, the great balls, and the gracious manners were all part of the Old
South, and Amanda remembers only the good times. To her, everything
was better then. One of Amanda's fantasies about her earlier life occurs
one night at the table after dinner when she tells Laura to "be the lady this
time" (scene I, pg. 971). Amanda wants Laura to sit and enjoy her coffee
while she is waiting for her gentleman callers. In the meantime, says Aman-
da, "I'll be the darky, "(scene I, pg. 971) and clean up the table and dishes.
Because Amanda does not want to accept her life the way it is, she fan-
tasizes about the past constantly.
If Amanda herself cannot accept her life the way it is and live in the
present, how can Tom and Laura? They cannot; therefore, they cannot live
up to her high expectations either. When they see Amanda escape her pro-
blems by going back to her youthful days, they follow her example, and
each chooses a safe time period for themselves. Tom leaps to the future,
thinking of the adventure of being a merchant marine and eventually
becoming a well-known poet. Laura, because she is crippled, cannot cope
with business school at the present time, nor can she see a marriage in the
future. Laura selects a never-never time: neither past, present, or future,
but a world of glass and reflections. Trapped in the different times, each
falls victim to illusions and fantasies.
Amanda can arouse our pity because of her inability to understand
where or how she has failed her children. She is the instrument in bringing
Laura and Tom to their desperate situations. She cripples them
psychologically and inhibits their own quest for maturity and self-
Since her husband's desertion, Amanda has depended on Tom heavily
for the support of the family and she wants him to continue to work, at least
until she can get Laura settled. When looking at Laura's timid personality,
Tom feels he could be working forever at the shoe factory. He has secretly
applied to the Merchant Marine, and when Tom's acceptance letter arrives,
Amanda finds it. Amanda and Tom argue, and Amanda stresses what she
hoped, she lovingly comforts Laura. Amanda has an aura of "dignity and
tragic beauty"(scene VII, pg. 1010) in the final scene.
expects of him: "[when] Laura has... married, [with] a home of her own,
[and is] independent... you'll be free to go... whichever way the wind blows!
But until that time... Find... some nice young [gentleman caller]... for
Sister"(scene IV, pg. 983). On Tom's young shoulders, Amanda has placed
the burdensome responsibility of the family left by the father. She has not
let Tom discover himself or what he wants in life. By inhibiting him this
way, she has halted his growth.
With Laura, Amanda has done the same thing in a different way.
Amanda wants Laura to have the same kind of life that she did as a young
girl, the life of a Southern belle who has "seventeen! -- gentleman
callers! "(scene I, pg. 971). With her unreal expectations, Amanda projects
her "Blue Mountain" image on Laura instead of letting Laura develop in
her own way and time. If Amanda had not pushed Laura so hard into
becoming something that she was not, Laura would not have been so self-
conscious of her failings; she might have had more of a chance at a normal
life. Since Laura cannot live up to her mother's expectations, she
withdraws herself into a world of glass that is only a reflection of the real
Amanda is admirable in her tenderness and love for her children,
especially Laura. Amanda (like most mothers) loves her children, and this
is shown throughout the play. Laura's future is Amanda's top priority and
concern. She wants Laura to go to business school so that Laura can sup-
port herself. When Amanda finds that Laura has dropped out of the
school, Amanda reverts to plan B: marriage. Amanda will be totally happy
only if she can get Laura settled. She enlists Tom's help for this plan.
Amanda wants Tom to bring home a gentleman caller for Laura. When
Tom brings home Jim and the visit does not go as well as Amanda had
Likewise, with Tom, Amanda's concern is shown in the way she
mothers him: "don't smoke too much, don't become a drunkard, and
don't drink hot coffee." Amanda cautions Tom, "that the future becomes
the present, the present the past, and the past turns into everlasting regret if
you don't plan for it! "(scene V, pg. 987). She tells him that with a little
more "get up," he could have "a fairly responsible job" like Jim does
(scene V, pg. 987). Amanda would like Tom to become a young business
executive, but she also lets Tom know over and over again how much they
depend on him; he is the man of the family, and she is proud of his efforts.
Amanda has a positive attitude about herself nearly all the time, and
even during the most trying times she has the attitude of "disappointed but
not discouraged." She depends on Tom and his job a lot, but she does not
just sit home herself. She has a job selling magazines and "working at
Famous and Barr"(scene II, pg. 972). Even when Tom and Amanda have
had an argument and she makes the statement, "My devotion has made me
a witch and so I make myself hateful to my children! " she comes back with,
"Try and you will succeed! "(scene IV, pg. 981).
So while Amanda is ridiculous, she is also respectable. We can identify
with her because of her mixed nature of both good and bad qualities. Her
tenderness and love for her children are laudable while her illusions about
the "Old South" and her expectations for Tom and Laura can awaken our
pity for her. Amanda is laughable and ridiculous as we all are, and we can
equate ourselves with her in our own efforts to deal with life and its
numerous problems. She is truly a paradox as all humans are. We are
neither all good nor all bad, neither all black nor all white, but shades of
Citations are found in David Bergman and Daniel Mark Epstein's
HeathGuide to Literature (Lexington, Mass.: D.C. Heath and Co., 1984).
POMP AND PAGEANTRY
Half a fortnight ere St. Patrick's Day,
Fair leprechauns come out for their foreplay.
Twenty smiling beauties primp and pace --
Tangled 'midst hair curlers, lipstick, lace.
The title, "Miss St. Patrick's Day," they crave:
To ride a float through drunken crowds, and wave.
A crowd has gathered 'round the stage below;
Music thunders, wine and whiskey flow.
Upstairs the ladies polish glassy lips,
Walk the floor to prime their swaying hips.
The mirrors on the wall claim all attention,
Save one young woman's: waiting without tension
She twists one curl around one slender finger;
On her the eyes of all the others linger.
The prize the previous year she nearly grasped,
But in the final moments her charm lapsed.
The luck of Erin smiled upon a redhead -
And only golden tresses fell from her head.
With vengeance she prepared to try again;
The year she spent in buffing silky skin.
Weeks of hunger ate away a pound:
Fine bones preferred she over cheeks so round.
And now the startling beauty she was born to,
Splendor of wild roses under soft dew
Has been transformed by her to dolly porcelain;
Flames of fury glow beneath her glass-skin.
But confidence and ease are all her form breathes:
Her graceful strut conceals the way her mind seethes.
She's practiced, prayed, and polished all her charms:
She sparkles, like the rhinestones on her arms.
Across the room a girl looks on in shyness,
Oblivious to the veteran's secret slyness.
She combs her copper curls with quivering hands -
Sparkling rings of auburn, she commands
Each to its place; they cover her fair shoulders.
In her eyes two emerald fires smoulder
A gown of shamrock green completes the picture:
An Irish lass, but not the judges' pick, sure!
A pretty girl she is, but no great beauty -•
Blondie feels the nearness of her booty.
The show begins; the girls all smile and shimmer.
The audience yowls like cats awaiting dinner.
Whistles, shouts, name-calling, lude suggestions,
They rival schoolboys, fresh-free from suppression.
Here inside the bar - no kids allowed --
Second Childhood rules this lively crowd.
As each fair lady glides across the stage,
Men reach and grab like monkeys through a cage.
The golden beauty, ready for the crowd,
Swaggers across, smiles, assured and proud.
Gratification envelopes her skin;
She revels in the tangle and the din.
Smiling promises flow from her blue eyes,
Capturing hearts with sweet, unspoken lies.
The fair-skinned lass follows, stepping lightly;
Behind her smile, she grits her teeth so tightly.
And in the end the red hair wins again --
An answering crimson colors the veteran's skin.
Her rage she holds until she is alone;
The grace which carried her to stage is gone.
She stumbles upstairs, blind with pain or ire,
A wiser woman certainly would retire,
But this one spends her days in spas and salons,
Eagle-proud, she flexes polished talons.
Making plans for show again next spring,
She preens each feather, smooths each ruffled wing.
And those who cheered her on to harsh defeat
Find the morning after not so sweet.
They work and wait for night to take them back --
The dog's hair calls them downtown in a pack
To wake from nightmares of sobriety
Into their reeling world of revelry.
TIME IS THE ESSENCE OF LIFE
Time is for us mortals the essence of life. We can be in control of our
lives and therefore in control of our time, or we can be committed to an
ideal or belief which we feel merits our time, or we may be people who waste
time. These are three alternatives for the use of time during our lives. We
must consider time a precious resource. Once it is gone, it is gone forever
and will never come again. In the poem, ' 'Ulysses, " we see a conqueror
king who is undoubtedly in complete control of his own life and regrets the
day he became idle because of his age. This poem is about his desire to
"drink life to the lees"(1.7, p. 541). He wants to pursue, to continue his
adventures. In the poem, "After Apple Picking, " we see a once hard work-
ing man, tired and exhausted. He has spent most of his life laboring for "a
great harvest I myself desired"(l .29, p. 837). The desire for being a lover is
present in Prufrock, but because of fear and lack of purpose, his time is
meaningless. By comparing "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" to
"The Apple Picker" and "Ulysses," we should find evidence of three dif-
ferent methods of using the irreplaceable commodity of time.
Ulysses is untouched by time or age, and the apple picker is tired and
ready to give up his work, but Prufrock's life represents an example of the
poorest use of time. He is a procrastinator. Prufrock is not bold enough to
ask a real person to go with him on a journey to an unknown place, so he
has an imaginary lover come along with him. We soon begin to understand
this situation as the hell of Prufrock's mind. It is inhabited by shallow,
superficial people who have no depth, reminding us of the characters in
Alice in Wonderland. Unlike the rabbit who constantly cries, "I'm late,
I'm late for a very important date," Prufrock's theme is, "there will be
time, there will be time"(1.26, p. 792). He wonders: should he or should he
not dare to ask? Since the title of the poem is "The Love Song of J. Alfred
Prufrock," we surmise that he is asking for his lover's affections. He is
never able to fully put his desire into thought patterns. Once again he asks,
"and should I then presume?/And how should I begin[?]"(1.68, p. 793).
Prufrock kids himself into believing "there will be time"(1.23, p. 792) for
all the trivialities of his tedious life. He changes his face or personality to
please each person he meets. He digresses into indecision even in the
smallest matters, for he feels he is not important. He spends his time in a
fantasy world and when confronted by life he will surely drown in a sea of
his own making. Contrasting the life of Ulysses with that of Prufrock, we
find two almost opposite extremes. There are no limitations of time with
Ulysses. He cannot rest from adventure even in his old age. He talks of
sailing again with his mariners who have shared much of his life, and who
are now also old. Like Prufrock and Ulysses, the apple picker is old and
very tired. It is winter, and he has seen his face reflected in the ice from the
drinking trough. The old, tired man is sleepy, and he lets the ice fall and
break. He welcomes the rest, and dreams of aonles which are magnified.
They are huge apples which appear and disappear much as the people of his
life do. Picking these apples makes him weary of "the great harvest I
myself [desire] "(1.27, 28, 29, p.837).
The characters have definite dislikes and feelings regarding death, and
for Prufrock the feelings fall under one heading ~ fear. His fear of being
ridiculed is stifling. He allows it to cut away his life, and that empty shell of
a man fears death as much as life. His allusions to John the Baptist and
Lazarus indicate the irony of Prufrock's situation as he compares himself
with these holy men who were totally dedicated to God, and who were will-
ing to die for Him. Prufrock has nothing for which to live or die. Ulysses
would certainly disagree with Prufrock's philosophy as he can think of
nothing worse than to pause, or make an end. He compares his inactivity to
a sword. Not wanting to rust, but to shine in use, he realizes that to breathe
alone is no indication of life. He thinks it vile to have rested for three days
while ignoring his desire to follow knowledge. To his mariners Ulysses says,
"You and I are old;/... death closes all. Some work of noble note may yet
be done" (1149-51, 52). The last line reflects the truth as seen by Ulysses.
Time never ceases for him as he invites his friends, saying, "Tis not too late
to seek a newer world"(157, p. 543). The apple picker is done with his
work. He is through picking apples although there are indications of work
to be done: an unfilled barrel, two or three unpicked apples on a bough.
He regrets those apples which he missed or let fall for they went to the cider-
apple heap "as of no worth" (1.38, p. 838). This makes us think of the ap-
ples lost as those opportunities missed in life, not missed because of pro-
crastination as with Prufrock, but missed because there is too much for one
man to do. This will trouble the apple picker. He realizes his human limita-
tions as he contemplates the sleep which may be very long, another way of
speaking of his death.
The purpose in life for each of the three men is reflected by the direc-
tion in which he travels. Prufrock wants desperately to appear
sophisticated. He wears all the right colors and still says, "there will be time
to turn back and descend the stair"(1.39, p. 792). This is a clear indication
of his lack of confidence in himself. He quickly decides that he should have
been "a pair of ragged claws/scuttling across the floor of silent seas"(1.73,
74). This is a comparison similar to Prufrock's direction, which is
backward like a crab. Not only does Prufrock fantasize the asking of ques-
tions, but he also interprets the answers of his lover. Suppose she says,
"that is not what I meant at all"(1.97, 98). This will certainly crush
Prufrock' s desire to appear sophisticated, and can be cited as his purpose in
life. The purpose of Ulysses is to use his time to seek knowledge. He views
all "experience as an arch... whose margin fades forever and ever when I
move"(1.21, p. 542). This has the effect of pointing Ulysses in a forward
direction. The apple picker in the Robert Frost poem gives us a picture of
an orchard, well-picked, and a two pointed ladder reaching toward heaven.
His direction is upward. Time is worn into his instep from the pressure of a
ladder round. He smells the scent of apples and hears the rumbling sound
as the loads come in. His purpose in life is to serve others and God by using
his time to the fullest.
We have looked at three alternatives for time utilization. We are not
all endowed with the resources of Ulysses, but we do share the same number
of hours in each day, along with Prufrock and the apple picker. Most of us
will probably spend our lives much like the apple picker. We may
sometimes have bad experiences like Prufrock, or really exciting times as in
the poem, ' 'Ulysses.' ' However we choose to live our lives, or use our time,
let us remember that time is a resource and it cannot be renewed. Time is
the essence of life.
Citations are found in David Bergman and Daniel Mark Epstein's Heath
Guide to Literature (Lexington, Mass.: D.C. Heath and Co., 1984).
Tall graceful grass
You tickle the skies
You beat out an ancient
rhythm with the wind
You dance without ever moving
Your song can be heard in the
Knocking of tropic evening breezes
The pounding of typhoon winds.
You drink up the rams
Shelter, clothe, and feed
Teacher of Confucius
How shallow man stands in your shadow.
At the end of "The Blue Hotel" by Stephen Crane, one of the main
characters, the Easterner, states that "every sin is the result of collabora-
tion"^. 252). This statement is incorrect because of the use of such an ab-
solute word as every and because of the Swede's exclusion from this col-
laboration. Such works as "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson, "King of the
Bingo Game" by Ralph Ellison, as well as the previously mentioned short
story support the statement that "[some] sins [are] the [results] of col-
laboration." However, neither this statement nor the first statement on sin
frees the victims from responsibility concerning their own downfalls.
The Easterner makes his assumptive statement on sin and collaboration
after admitting that he had seen Johnny cheat the Swede. The Easterner
feels that if he would have revealed what he saw that evening and defended
the Swede, then the Swede would not have been killed that night.
There are several definite problems in the conclusion drawn by the
Easterner. The first problem exists in the number of men that the Easterner
holds responsible. The Easterner is very wrong in his allotment of the
liability in the Swede's death. Not only does the Easterner blame himself
and the other men at the Palace Hotel on the night of the Swede's death, but
he also blames them more than the gambler who actually killed the Swede:
[The gambler] isn't even a noun, He is a kind of
adverb. ...in this case it seems to be... five men ~ [the
Easterner, the cowboy], Johnny, old Scully; and that
fool of an unfortunate gambler came merely as a
culmination, the apex of a human movement, and
[he] gets all the punishment (p. 252).
The main problem with this statement exists in the omission of the per-
son who was most responsible for the death of the Swede, the Swede
himself. The Swede was responsible for his actions leading up to his death.
Even if the Easterner would have helped the Swede by confessing to have
seen Johnny cheat, the Swede probably would have ended up dead on the
barroom floor anyway. The Easterner's confession or lack of confession
probably would not have affected the Swede's "mightier than God" at-
titude and he probably would have reacted the same way. The support of
the Easterner would probably have had the same effect on the Swede as did
the drink of liquor that he had before the fight.
The assertion that the Easterner makes about his responsibility in the
death of the Swede is incorrect. The Easterner is being too harsh on himself
and those involved. The Easterner did what he thought was the correct
thing to do at that time, and he did not know that the evening would end the
way it did. The distribution of responsibility and guilt is absurd because
there is no way that they could have known that the Swede would be killed
after leaving the Palace Hotel that night.
The Easterner was correct in one aspect, however. The gambler was
not as guilty in the death of the Swede as someone else was. If one character
had to be labelled the victim, it would be the gambler. He was directly vic-
timized by the loud-talking Swede. The Swede himself is made to look like
as entirely innocent victim. This is completely incorrect. The Swede was
more responsible than anyone for his own death.
In "The Lottery," another protagonist is very responsible for her own
death ~ Mrs. Jessie Hutchinson. The reason that Mrs. Hutchinson can be
held so responsible exists in her failure to protest the "game" before it
started. She only began to protest after she had won, and she then protested
for all the wrong reasons: "You didn't give him time enough to take any
paper he wanted. I saw you. It wasn't fair!" Her action shows her lack of
thought and her willingness to conform with what everyone else does even if
it is wrong, as is the lottery. Had Mrs. Hutchinson not drawn the black dot,
she probably would have been at the front of the crowd and holding the
Even though the woman is very wrong for not taking a stand against
the lottery beforehand, the peruser must still feel some pity for this
"chosen" woman. She doesn't stand up against her community because the
community has always resisted change. The result of this lack of change is
an epidemic of thoughtlessness. Even the box that the lottery slips are
drawn from is old and "splintered badly along one side to show the original
wood color, ...but no one liked to upset even as much tradition as was
represented by the black box"(p. 414). The woman's lack of thought, as
well as everyone else's lack of thought, is caused by the collaboration of at-
titudes of all the people in the community. All of the people in the com-
munity victimize themselves by letting the lottery continue.
A very different example of collaboration and its effect on sin lies in
the short story by Ralph Ellison, "King of the Bingo Game." The pro-
tagonist in this story is clearly a victim because he honestly tries to help
himself. Even though he does attempt to help himself, he fails because of
the collaboration of society against his race.
The protagonist tries to help himself by moving out of the rural South
to the "opportunity-filled" North. The "King" realizes that his attempt to
escape from his doom that followed him in the South is failing. His wife,
Laura, is dying and he can not afford a doctor. It is also very obvious that
he hasn't eaten in a long time: "I'm just broke, 'cause I got no birth cer-
tificate to get a job, and Laura 'bout to die 'cause we got no money for a
doctor"(p. 406). This quote also shows that he has tried to get a job and
can not because he has no birth certificate. It is as if the world is col-
laborating against him. Because of this collaboration, the man is forced to
play a game of chance to try and win money. The protagonist is truly vic-
The King dreams of
walking along a railroad trestle down South, and
seeing the train coming, and running back as fast as
he could go, and hearing the whistle blowing, and
getting off of the trestle to solid ground just in time,
with the earth trembling beneath his feet, and feeling
relieved as he ran down the cinder-strewn embank-
ment onto the highway, and looking back and seeing
with terror that the train had left the tracks and was
following him right down the middle of the street,
and all the white people laughing as he ran scream-
ing.... (p. 407).
This dream shows how the protagonist has attempted futilely to free himself
from the dangers of being black and poor. He realizes that his cause has
followed him even where he thought that it would not, just as the train
followed him off the track.
The "King" makes another important realization after he wins the
bingo game, and he is on the stage. He realizes
that his whole life [had been] determined by the
bingo wheel; not only that which would happen now
that he was at last before it, but all that had gone
before, since his birth, and his mother's birth, and
the birth of his father, (p. 408)
The protagonist realizes that he has always been playing the "game of life,"
as had his mother and father before him, and the odds of winning are
always very bad. Ironically, at the end of the story, the wheel lands on the
winning number, but again, as always, he loses.
In all three stories, at least one character is definitely victimized ~ if not
by one person, as in "The Blue Hotel," then by many, as in "The Lottery"
and "King of the Bingo Game." In the first two stories, the protagonist
was directly responsible for his or her own downfall. In the last story, this is
not the case. Each story exhibits the results of collaboration or victimiza-
tion - or both.
Citations are found in James H. Pickering and Jeffrey D. Hoeper's
Literature (New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc., 1982).
SHAPES TO FILL A LACK
NOT JUST ANOTHER ORDINARY
Anna Crowe Dewart
So, he was dead. He'd done it: drunk and smoked himself into the Ely-
sian Fields. I hoped he was happy; I wasn't. I felt cheated. I'd waited for
years, hoping to catch up with him again and share all that had happened in
the twenty-five years since he had been my mentor. There have been others:
many, especially if one considers humanity as a whole; very few that have
been truly unique. Henry Lindstrom had been both unique and the first.
It was his car that was the first sign I noticed of his presence. I'd never
seen anything like it. It was tiny, a dull olive-drab color, and a peculiar
shape. I peered down into it and couldn't believe my eyes » it was strewn
with crumpled Lucky Strike packages ~ did anyone smoke that much? I
walked all around it, wondering who in the world it could belong to, then
rushed off to class and forgot all about it.
Later in the year I passed him in the hall. Our eyes met. He gave me a
big wink like some senior devil might to his apprentice. I was appalled.
"Who is that man," I asked, turning to my friend. "I mean, I know he's a
teacher and all that, but . . .?" She replied, "Oh, that's Mr. Lindstrom.
He's new this year; teaches Senior English Honors - weird." The rest of
that year I would look for him in the halls, then do my best to ignore him if
I saw him.
One day after school, toward the end of the school year, I was going to
meet my mother. There he was, loping in his slouching manner right down
the hall toward me. I panicked. This was ridiculous. I didn't even know
the man. But when out of my terror I heard him stop and ask me who I
was, what grade I was in, I found myself quite calmly looking straight into
his blue eyes and saying, "I'm Mrs. Young's daughter, Molly. I'm a
sophomore but hope to skip next year. I only have two junior credits to
take and can do them over the summer by correspondence from the Univer-
sity." Smiling, eyes friendly, but deadly serious, he said, "I'm Mr. Lind-
strom, teach Senior English. Maybe I'll see you next year." He turned
abruptly and strode off down the hall.
I couldn't wait for school to start the next fall. I had made English
Honors. Not only that, I was in his class. Then, there I was, sitting, trying
to make small talk with my friends, rapping my pencil on the desk. Where
He entered the room with no salutation, in mid-sentence, his compell-
ing, nicotine ridden actor's voice in staccatto ~ ". . . and I don't care, don't
want mentioned within this room, will not discuss with any one of you,
what a noun, verb, subject, pronoun, dangling participle, prepositional
phrase, ad-nauseum, is, or how they are used. If you didn't know English
grammar you wouldn't be here; if you think you've forgotten during the
summer, you may be excused ~ now. Please open your books to page 133.
This is a poem by an anonymous, Sixteenth Century writer - probably a
soldier." I was spellbound; at last this intense curiosity was to find some
sort of gratification.
I couldn't work hard enough, couldn't wait to get to class, couldn't
wait to get my papers back. It was a sweet hurting anxiety of creative ef-
fort, again and again. He chided, he paced back and forth across the
classroom; he revealed it all. He knew the origin and background of the
words; their change in usage, how, when, why they had become accepted or
used pejoratively. That was what the energy was about ~ the sharing of
knowledge, stretching, growing!
Yes, I'd grown fond of that fine dark hair, could hardly bear the inten-
sity of his eyes. When he didn't wear his usual uniform of grey slacks, white
shirt and soft, worn, burgundy corduroy jacket - its sleeves, of necessity,
patched at the elbows - I was crushed. And how he got away with it in a
predominately Mormon school, I'll never know - but there, always roun-
ding a hip pocket of his trousers, was his wine flask (endearing, daring
I was in love, I admit it, but it wasn't the man by himself. It was the
towering presence of knowledge carried in such a strong but slight man who
stood just taller than myself. It was his manner of pouring it all out as if we
might all die at any moment -- all the words with their reflective beauty and
capacity for "telling" lost, with no ears to hear, no hearts to interpret.
It was also a life-style. One day when I didn't have my car, I asked for
a ride into town. He invited me into his house to meet his wife and young
son. I accepted with fear and elation. He called, as we walked in the door,
"Lucy, Beasley, I've brought someone to meet you." The arome of baking
bread permeated the spotless, Spartan, book-lined living room. A huge
desk, pressed up against a window, carried small stacks of more books,
papers, a lamp with its shade covered with jotted notes pinned to it, an
ashtray with cigarette ends spilling out over its sides; it gave a contrasting
impressions of being respectfully and lovingly untouched when the rest of
the room was cleaned.
He led me on into the kitchen and there, bent over, taking fresh
homemade crescent rolls from the over, was his wife. When she stood up
and turned toward us I was struck by the simplicity of her un-made-up
beauty, young, bright in her slight, refined form. "Lucy - Molly, Molly
-Lucy," he introduced us. Gesturing toward a sturdy, shining baby boy
playing on the clean linoleum floor, "Beasley Bones, euphonism for Beastly
Bones - he was huge and hard for her to have."
In the corner of the kitchen was a wooden booth, built cafe-style into a
nook, with a huge jug of red wine sitting on the floor beneath one seat.
"Have a seat. Would you like a glass of wine?" Then he corrected himself
saying, "Ah, no, not 'til you've graduated, my young friend," and
laughing to Lucy, continued, "I've robbed one cradle already, no need to
corrupt another." The newness of it all; a whole new atmosphere - travel
posters and favorite pictures tacked to the wall, potted plants flowering in-
the window, books everywhere, classical music playing -- 1 had come home.
I rode home with him many times that year; soaking it all in, learning
about the "Northeast," Dartmouth, where he had taught and courted
Lucy, - stories of his trudging across the snow-laden campus to her apart-
ment to lie before a fire and listen to Gregorian Chants. He had studied in
England. He had acted off Broadway. He knew Susan Strasbourg. It was
overwhelming and something in me was starved. I couldn't get enough.
Like some kind of echo of Socrates, he made me a disciple, an apprentice in
living, a conspirator in learning.
When summer came I would spend whole days with them, but
treasured most are the evenings on the screened-in porch, finally drinking
my first glasses of wine, occasionally daring to smoke a cigarette. Our only
light was a flickering candle stuck in a favorite wine bottle. I listened to him
talk of things to come in my life as if he were telling me into being. He was
relentless in his demands to make me think, seek the right questions, express
my own impressions, ideas, opinions, and build my own sense of values.
One evening, just a week before I was to leave for college, he walked
me to my car. He ushered me in and after he had very carefully shut the
door, he bent over, reached in and cradled the back of my head firmly and
gently in his hand - as we looked into one another we became one being.
He didn't kiss me; it was the only time we ever touched. It was as if that ex-
quisite burning desire ~ in him, to teach, in me, to learn -- was held there in
a moment completely outside time to exist forever.
Have you had your fill of rice today?
How many mouths must you feed?
First born daughter child
Just practice for first child
Ancient Ancestral altar made
Red with neon light
Where the spirits of my spirits
Rest away from the color T.V.
Grandmother quick come out from
Rice fields I want a computer
You speak English-everyone knows
English is the yellow brick road to.. .is Oz in Asia?
Don't chew too many beetle nuts
They stain your teeth
American candy is too sweet
No, I don't believe in your Jesus
Buddah is much wiser
It's never mind - tigers, tigers, horses, horses
We all spring from the middle kingdom
Japan has a Magic Kingdom.
Mr. Smith was a big man in his early sixties. He was over six feet tall
and weighed two hundred and twenty pounds. His pleasant, even features
were accented by smile wrinkles around his eyes and mouth. He would lie
on his side, propped on one elbow, his head supported by a massive hand.
Jet black hair, speckled only slightly with gray, covered his head. Horn-
rimmed glasses framed benevolent dark brown eyes that were full of humor.
He spoke with a fine resonant voice that was often broken with rich
laughter at his own jokes. As I tended to my nurse's aide duties in his
hospital room, he told me he had been a railroad man for thirty years. We
talked of families, gardens, and travel.
His wife and at least one of his four children were with him constantly.
More ailing patriarch now than husband and father, he displayed a quiet
strength that made him a precious part of their lives. They attended his
needs, giving all they could, nurturing him as he had nurtured them.
Mr. Smith had been a diabetic for many years. He had been admitted
for treatment when his diabetes had become uncontrollable. Weakened by
this, he found it difficult to breathe when he exerted himself. Despite his
weakness, his family was optimistic. Tests would be done, the diabetes cur-
tailed, and all would be well. I left the floor a few days after meeting him
with the same optimism, convinced that Mr. Smith and I would never meet
Two months later, I assumed a permanent position on the onocology
floor of St. Joseph's Hospital. It was a difficult adjustment. Cancer en-
compasses the entire spectrum of human physiology and, as a nursing stu-
dent, I became involved intellectually. While I was impressed with my abili-
ty to apply my newly learned knowledge of anatomy, I was shocked by the
impotence of the medical profession in its fight against cancer.
This was a hectic floor as nurses and aides raced to "maintain" their
patients. Few are cured. Machines fill the hospital rooms. Infusion pumps
click rhythmically as they measure out liquid nourishment in one room and
toxic chemotheraputic drugs in another. Their alarms go off every ten of
fifteen minutes, beckoning a nurse to read the computerized messages that
flash across the screens in yellow, blue or red. Respiratory therapists haul
in breathing equipment in an effort to clear congested lungs. Oxygen bub-
bles through plastic bottles of water at the head of every bed. Tubes fill
natural and unnatural orifices perpetually draining and filling, draining and
It is a battlefield with few survivors. While the silent parasite ravages
its victim, those who wait also suffer. The battle may be long or short, but
the odds are set and the nurse knows from the first skirmish who the victor
will probably be.
The hall is hushed when a patient is dying. The idle chatter in the
nurse's station and lounge stops. Only the slight squeak of rubber soles on
the linoleum tiles breaks the quiet. It would seem that the very air is
suspended as if any movement would disturb the vacillating life that is being
drawn towards death. Often two or three die within hours of each other.
Time becomes a border around a great empty space.
In September of that year Mr. Smith became my patient again. It had
been five months since I had seen him. His diagnosis was lung cancer.
Mr. Smith was in the terminal stages of his disease. The man who
greeted me now had undergone a terrible metamorphosis. Deep creases had
replaced the smile lines around his eyes and mouth. His features were
sunken; his face had thinned. His tanned skin had taken on a yellow pallor;
the sad, painful figure, still on one side, struggled for breath. Gone was his
fine, resonant voice; he could barely speak above a whisper.
While I cared for him I would take his hand and lean down close to his
face to hear what he was saying. He would rasp out some well-chosen com-
ment or request. Eventually even this became too much of an effort and he
was silent. He was totally dependent on us to anticipate his every need.
Once again his family gathered at his bedside. They slept in chairs or
on the floor beside him and at least one of them was always with him. They
feared the loss of him and physically and emotionally clung to him as if this
could prevent his ultimate departure. I had a great affection for this gentle
and once strong man; it saddened me to see this change in him.
There was very little any of us could do for Mr. Smith. He was given
intravenous fluids in an attempt to stabilize his electrolyte and fluid
balance, his pain medication was adjusted, and he was discharges after
about three weeks. I felt that this would be our last meeting. But just
before Thanksgiving, he returned. The final struggle had begun. Now Mr.
Smith's silence was broken only by the bubbling " death rattles" that em-
phasized his every breath. His eyes were wide with terror. He was drown-
ing in his own fluids.
Days went by and Mr. Smith succumbed and waited. We all waited.
The day before Thanksgiving, the rales stopped and his respiration became
slows, shallow and quiet, with intermittent periods of apnea. The hand I
held now was cold, damp and flaccid. His eyes showed no pain, no more
terror. He was ready.
Early one afternoon his son came to the nurse's station. "My father is
damp. I'd like for someone to change his bed and gown." he said.
The charge nurse moved close to him. "Is he very uncomfortable?"
she asked. "I'd rather not move him any more than we have to."
"He's wet," the son answered. "I don't want him to be cold." He left
The charge nurse looked at me. "Make the family leave the room
when you change him," she said.
I called for the male attendant. The orderly that night was a rough
man, outwardly devoid of compassion. His total dislike of his work and the
resentment he felt towards this obligation were directed towards his patients
and workmates equally. But I would need his strength to change Mr.
When the orderly arrived I gathered clean sheets and a clean gown and
we walked to the room together. We rolled Mr. Smith onto his right side as
I stripped off the old sheets and replaced them with clean ones. He was
swollen with fluids that his body could not release, and he had little stength
to maneuver his large cumbersome limbs. We had watched as one body
system after another had shut down. Only his skin worked now and in an
effort to compensate it poured out liters of cold perspiration. The
bedclothes would not be dry for long.
When I had tucked in the new sheets, we turned Mr. Smith onto his left
side towards me and the orderly pulled the sheets from underneath him.
His gaze settled on my face. His eyes were fixed, all emotion, all evidence
of his pain, gone from them. Suddenly, his respirations slowed and stop-
"Please, Mr. Smith," I prayed, "please don't go on me now!" I look-
ed at my watch, counting, five seconds, ten seconds. "Wait!" I shouted to
The orderly stopped and looked up from his work. Mr. Smith's
breathing began again, almost as if I had called him back. The orderly
continued. Minutes passed and again Mr. Smith's breathing stopped.
"Mr. Smith!" I called. Another fifteen seconds had passed. He sighed
and began to breathe. Wearily, he looked up at me. I longed for the order-
ly to finish with the mounds of pads and drawsheets.
When Mr. Smith's respirations stopped for the third time my panic
became even more desperate. "Stop!" I yelled. "Forget about finishing,
let's get his head up!" We moved Mr. Smith onto his back and put his head
up on pillows and his breathing returned. I straigthened the bottom sheets.
"You can leave now," I told the orderly. "I'll finish him." Relieved,
the orderly left the room. I changed the soaked gown and topsheets alone.
The room was silent except for the quiet struggling sounds of Mr. Smith's
breathing and the weak bubbling of the oxygen above his head. I hung on
each breath as I finished the bed.
When everything was in place, I took his hand. "Mr. Smith," I asked,
"are you comfortable now?" The words were empty and stupid and I
realized that as soon as I blurted them. They served to emphasize how truly
helpless we both were.
The fragility of life, all life, my life, was so cruelly obvious at that mo-
ment. The air was heavy and oppresive with the reality of death nd the im-
permanence of every object in that room, and even the room itself.
I left the room and turned down the empty hall towards the nurse's sta-
tion. I felt relief that I would not be present when Mr. Smith's time came.
Halfway down the hall I turned and impulsively returned to his room. I
stood at the door looking in at him and, without touching him, I knew that
he was dead.
I shut the door and walked over to the bed. His eyes were closed. It
almost seemed that he had waited to die privately. I took his hand in mine;
there was no more muscle tonicity, and his hand was stiff yet yeilding. The
large hands were gray, the nailbeds blue. I felt for a pulse first in his wrist
and then with my stethoscope just under his heart. There was no pulse nor
were there breath sounds. I rang the buzzer for the nurse.
"May I help you?" came the voice through the intercom.
"Send a nurse down here, please," I answered.
The charge nurse appeared immediately and we examined the body
together. She turned down the I. V. to a slow four or five drips a minute and
she left to tell the family who had been waiting in the visitors' area.
Mr. Smith's family fathered outside his room. They sobbed quietly as
the charge nurse spoke to them. Their grief was quiet, personal. I watched
them from the nurse's station. All four children had their father's dark hair
and olive skin. Their faces, though distorted by sadness, retained their in-
herent dignity. I felt a rush of emotion as I looked at their dark sensitive
eyes, their father's eyes. Now I turned away feeling unable to control my
Some minutes later the eldest daughter came to the door of the station.
She told the nurse of the arrangements that had been made for Mr. Smith's
body. They she turned to me. "Please tell me," she said, her voice shak-
ing, "was the end? Was it . . .?"
"Easy?" I asked gently. She nodded. "Yes," I said, "it was very
easy. He just stopped breathing."
"I had to ask," she sobbed. "I needed to know."
I went into the nurse's lounge. I felt a huge responsibility for Mr.
Smith's death. Precious moments had been taken from him by moving
him. It was a burden that I couldn't remove with logic. Another nurse join-
ed me. "Mr. Smith's gone?" she asked.
"Yes," I answered. "I guess changing him was more than he could
bear. I wish we hadn't done it."
"It's the chance you take," she said. "Every time we give the large
doses of medications the doctors order for all these patients with failing
lungs, we wait. The end comes when it comes. What you do means very lit-
tle. You will work hardest at protecting yourself."
In the year since Mr. Smith's death, I have cared for many patients.
During their months of chemotherapy we have exchanged small portions of
our lives and become friends. When they die I am mercifully occupied with
the work that is left to be done.
Each death brings to my quieter moments a feeling of personal loss.
Another life existed and is no more. What I have learned to accept is that
there is for me no coming to terms with the death of an individual. Nursing
is an occupation of giving and caring tempered with the knowledge that in
our mutual struggle for life and health we are as vulnerable as those for
whom we struggle.
Dylan Thomas' 'Tern Hill" is a soliloquy, rich in imagery, in which
lost innocence is recalled. Thomas makes much use of alliteration in his
metaphors throughout the work, pairing green with golden, simple with
stars, and white with wanderer. He repeats the duo of green and grass to
achieve different effects. The narrator's childhood was carefree and happy;
he was immortal in his innocence. The world he lived in was beautiful, ver-
dant - a safe and simple place. It was his world, his possession. He was lord
of all he surveyed, and all things danced to his tune. His childhood
memories remain, made perhaps more poignant by his awareness of his own
mortality and insignificance.
The child's attitude toward his world was an egocentric one. The world
was his; he was "prince of the apple towns," "huntsman and herdsman";
he was "famous among the barns." His pastoral surroundings provided
him with material for heroic fantasies, and for him the roles he played were
The farm (the world) existed for him and because he existed. Each
night, "As I rode to sleep," the farm vanished. With his awakening "the
farm, like a wanderer white with the dew, come back" was recreated for
him. Where the farm had gone during the night was not important; that it
was reborn for him anew and anon was sufficient.
The simplicity of the child's perceptions, his unquestioning acceptance
of what his senses told him, is evident in "the nightjars, flying with the
ricks," and in "the whinnying green stable." Stables and ricks, of in-
animate wood, of course neither speak not fly. But the child heard the
sounds, and for him, ricks could take wing, and barns neigh.
His simple world was a safe one as well. Each night as he "rode to
sleep" with owls "bearing the farm away," he slept secure in the aegis of in-
nocence. [The owl is the symbol of Pallas Athena, the protector.]
The illustrations of the child's viewpoint continue. He saw "Fields as
high as the house," the golden grain of the fields towering over him as did
the imposing bulk of the house. He perceived each clearly, each bigger than
he, but saw no need to differentiate between the two. This is the altered
perception of the small child, as opposed to the personifications of the
stable and the ricks.
Green appears as a metaphor again and again in "Fern Hill." It is used
to represent youth, inexperience, and innocence. The narrator was "green
and carefree," "young and easy," and happy, as "happy as the grass was
Thomas also uses green in a denotative sense. There is the green of
"the apple boughs," the verdure of 'daisies and barley," and again the
grass around the house. These greens of springtime and summer are, as are
innocence and youth, ephemeral. The short-lived green of youth is also
referred to in the last lines of the poem, where the narrator tells us that
"Time held me green and dying."
The man the narrator has become expounds, in his ruminations on his
youth, on the wonder of creation and celebrates life. The light in the line
"Down the rivers of the windfall light" can be seen as the light of creation.
Another reference to light appears in the lines dealing with the farm's
return, "Shining, it was Adam and maiden." The image recurs in "And the
sun grew round that very day."
All the elements of Genesis are present in the seventh and eighth stan-
zas. The sun is followed by "the sky gathered again," then Adam and Eve
appear. The Biblical sequence is followed as sun, sky, and life appear. As
in the beginning legend, order comes from chaos, with "the birth of the
simple light/ In the first, spinning place." God created first the beasts,
Genesis tells us, then man. The "spellbound horses walking warm" might
be seen as the first animals, and "the fields of praise" could easily be taken
as the Garden of Eden.
Lines seventeen through twenty-two present a celebration of the
"And the sabbath rang slowly
In the pebbles of the holy streams.
All the sun long it was running, it was lovely, the hay.
Fields as high as the house, the tunes from the chimneys
it was air
And playing, lovely and watery,
And fire green as grass."
The elements are intermingled, fire moving as might air move, and
described as "watery." The elements are life, the world all of a piece, view-
ed as an harmonious whole. The "it" in "it was running" can be seen as
The child that the narrator brings back in his reverie saw each day as a
new creation, another sabbath. The child, in his innocence, was like Adam
and Eve, the "Adam and maiden" of line thirty. He was without sin, and
immortal. As they fell literally from Grace, so did the child fall, each pay-
ing the penalty for knowledge. The child is all of us, one of the "children
green and golden" who "Follow him out of grace." The "him" that the
children follow is time.
Thomas personifies time, naming him five times. He is alternately kind
and indulgent, remorseless and cruel. "Time let me hail and climb," "Time
let me play and be golden." Time allowed the child to be a child, let him en-
joy youth as he "ran my heedless ways." Time could afford to indulge him,
because time would win.
The references to time prepare the reader for the final lines and the last
personification in the poem. Time had let him play "In the sun that is
young once only," and the child did not care that "time would take me."
The reference to the "children green and golden" indicates a recognition
that we are all subject to time, that we are all mortal, all insignificant. We
must all one day "wake to the farm forever fled from the childless land."
The last two lines of "Fern Hill" form a conclusion. "Time held me
green and dying/ Though I sang in my chains like the sea." reveals the nar-
rator's realization that life and death are inseoerable. As the sea is held in
chains by the land, both its opposite and compliment, so is life by death en-
chained. Each gives meaning and definition to the other, as do light and
If there is a message to be gleaned from this work, it is not only that
none of us will get out of it (life) alive, but that life is all we have. We
should live it to the fullest while we can.
A FISH STORY
While many people fish for food, a great number of us, sport
fishermen, trophy-hunters, and Saturday trollers, do so simply for enter-
tainment. Because most of us are gentle, harmless creatures, I can only con-
clude that if people realized the cruelty of sport fishing, then they would
refrain from practising it. In an effort to increase the awareness of such
people, I ask you to put yourself in the fish's place. Imagine that you are a
hungry young trout, gliding silently through the cool waters of a salty
Georgia creek. You notice a faint, white blur drifting a short distance
ahead of you~a meal-sized shrimp. Eager and unsuspecting, you grab it,
planning to swallow the creature in a gulp before it realizes what has hap-
pened, when suddenly you feel an excruciating pain in your mouth and you
find that you cannot swallow your would-be breakfast. Fighting for all you
are worth, you are nevertheless pulled toward the surface of the waters,
toward that awful void in which the murderously hot, heavy winds blow.
The roof of your mouth is torn and bleeding, but you still cannot free
yourself. At the surface you are hauled into the bright light, driven into
frenzy when you leave the buoyancy of the water and your resulting weight
increase redoubles the pain in your mouth and echoes it with an ache in your
besmothered gills. A dry, rough blanket wraps around you and you are
lifted and turned over a few times, and then the barb is twisted and snatched
from your face. You fall into the cold water again, feeling the salt that
ruthlessly bites at your wound. As the subsequent days pass you cannot eat
with your mangled mouth and a white, prickly infection spreads across your
sides in the places where that dry roughness touched your scales. Whether
or not you heal and live to chance another such experience, your tiny body
struggles to recover and your mind can only wonder, "Why?"
Roses blooming silently in effortless array,
Sunlight trying desperately to penetrate the day,
Wall-to-wall sensations echo through my mind
As a girl who never knew you throws tears into the wind.
Listening to the crashing blows of treacherous pretenses,
Hard, hungry syllables that beat against my senses,
Feeling pain despite the sway of pointless alcohol,
Apathetic clothing starts its long, revealing, fall.
Tranquil, lovely face that I will evermore adore,
Beauty bathed in blackness as the earth resumes its door,
But Spirit! -- Spirit, run fast, run free!
And as I offer you my hand, please pause to wait for me.
THE STORY BOX
The shadowy green woods rustled complacently, settling in for another
humid night. The sharp staccato shriek of a jay and the solemn woodwind
tones of a whip-poor-will competed for dominance of the oppresive late-
afternoon silence, but did nothing to disturb the molasses-like malaise that
hung heavy in the air like a coming storm. Encroaching pines stood like
grave sentinels over a tiny wooden shack set between the vaguely menacing
woods and a narrow dirt road. Muscular vines of wisteria embraced the
shack's rusted tin roof, threatening to crush what already sagged beneath
the weight of time.
On the rude wooden porch a one-eyed yellow Tom-cat lay somnolently
watchful, only the occasional flick of its ears betraying it as alive. Nearby
an old woman sat creaking in a rocking chair and lackadaisically fanning
herself with a cardboard fan showing a blurred, four-color picture of Jesus
on one side and an advertisement for a funeral home on the other. As she
rocked, she contemplated with affectionate sternness the little girl who sat
on the steps before her dangling her bare feet in the red Georgia earth. The
girl, round eyes glowing with anticipation as she quietly awaited the story
she knew was to come, clung with sweaty hands to the rough wooden box in
her lap. Beneath the porch, a rasping rainfrog began to chant his rythmic
Without warning, the old woman cleared her throat noisely and spat
over the edge of the porch. The cat started up in alarm, then settled back
down reluctantly, after shooting the woman an accusing look with its one
"Give me the story-box, girl," the old woman said, reaching out her
gnarled hands. "I'D see what I can find to tell you about today.' '
The girl watched intently as the woman's crooked fingers clumsily
worked the latch, opened the box, and slowly sifted through the articles
contained in it, her face contorting in vivid remembrance. The girl saw and
recognized several things from earlier tales: a crumbling yellow newspaper
clipping, a creased, sepia-toned photograph of a young man, a bit of stain-
ed lace, a strand of green glass beads. Each of these items recalled to her
mind one of her grandmother's colorful stories of the past with the quick-
shifting intensity of a slide projection.
The woman's hand emerged from the box finally, holding a tiny brown
package tied up with a bit of string.
"I reckon today I'll tell you about the time me and my daddy watched
the hanging. I don't reckon you'll understand all of it, but there's a lesson
to it, so you listen good, you hear?"
At the girl's eager nod, the old woman frowned, then began.
"Well, it was like this. Me and my daddy were going to town one mor-
ning. It was nearly five miles, and we had to walk the whole way. I must
have been about your age; you're ten, ain't that right? Yes." She paused, a
look of intense reflection on her face.
"Well, anyway, we were walking down the road when all of a sudden
we saw this crowd of people coming round the bend towards us. Must have
been twenty or thirty of them, hollering and shouting and stirring up a great
cloud of dust so you could see and hear them way off. Some of the women
were crying, and a bunch of scrawny, shirt-tail younguns were running
along beside, picking up rocks and slinging them into the midst of the
crowd, laughing and carrying on like they was on a holiday. The whole
crowd was too far away for us to see what all the excitement was about, but
daddy says to me, he says, 'You stick close to me, now. We're gonna see
what this ruckus is all about.' "
Her mouth twitched into a half-smile at the remembrance of her long-
dead father's words; the girl sat motionless, patient.
"When we got up close enough to be heard, my daddy halloed to the
men and asked them what had happened.
" 'We done caught us a nigger,' a man wearing dirty overalls and a
greasy hat told us. 'He's the one what they say raped the Watson girl.'
" 'Yeah,' another said. 'And we aim to make him pay, and pay good.'
She stopped, fingering her chin ruminatively.
"I knew about the Watson girl. She was older than me, but I had seen
her around, at church mostly. She was a real pretty girl, as I remember. At
least, she was before the trouble. Seems they'd found her in the woods, her
dress all torn, and she'd told them what had happened. That had been two
or three days before, and some of the neighbor men had been laying for that
nigger all the time since, waiting to catch him. I was too young then to
know what it was all about exactly, but I knew from the way folks was ac-
ting that it was pretty serious business. Yessir, serious business. She never
was quite right after that."
With unexpected violence, the old woman sprang forward from her
chair and swatted an insect with her fan. "Darn yellow-fly's been biting me
all afternoon," she explained, settling back down. The girl reached out and
absently thumped the squashed fly off the edge of the porch, a preoccupied
look on her face.
"Anyway, as we were standing there talking, one of the women in the
crowd started to wail and cry out, and we looked over at her.
" 'That there's poor old Mrs. Watson, the girl's ma,' the first man told
us. 'She's come along to watch us hang this black bastard. Says she won't
sleep again till she sees him swing. Can't say as I blame her.' " The old
woman nodded, crafty and knowing.
"Daddy pushed through the crowd a ways, dragging me along, so we
could get a look at the man they had caught. We had to fight it pretty rough
to get through that mob, but then suddenly we were before him. I
remember it so good, just like yesterday. There he stood: big and black and
scary-looking, his hands tied behind his back and his feet looped together
with somebody's belt. Two men were holding their rifles to him, and the lit-
tle boys were pelting him with rocks and sticks from all sides. But that nig-
ger never moved a muscle, just stood there looking straight ahead, proud as
a king." She paused pensively, her eyes doubtful, then resolvedly con-
"I remember wondering how they found out he was the man; I guess
they knew what they were doing. I tried to ask daddy, but he just shook his
head at me, like he was angry. I told him I felt sorry for the man, even if he
" 'You ought not feel any more sorry for him than for a mad dog,' he
told me. 'He's a vicious cur, and he has to be put down, for the sake of all
" Tts God's will!' a wild-eyed young man in the crowd shouted. I
recognized him to be the Reverend Taylor's boy. There were a few mur-
murs of 'Amen,' and the rest of the people just nodded their heads in agree-
"I looked up into that colored' s face and I knew right then that they
were right. He was scowling at me so mean and fierce, I felt all my pity for
him dry up inside me. I was so scared, I almost wanted to run off into the
woods to get away from him, even if he was tied up. I didn't no more
understand what 'rape' meant than you do, but I sure had sense enough to
know it couldn't be good. Yessir, I remember it like yesterday. I tell you, I
was scared." She looked at the girl with sidelong intensity, as if trying to
judge her reaction.
The yellow Tom-cat stirred lazily, snapping diffidently at a fly buzzing
around its ears, then resumed its sphinx-like posture.
The little girl sat frowning, unable to comprehend her grandmother's
words. As she dug her toes into the soft clay, her grandmother's words dug
into the fertile soil of her young imagination, spoiling her usually sunny
child's face with a dark and troubled shadow of age. Her thoughts were in-
terrupted as the old woman resumed her tale.
"We followed along with the crowd till we came to the spot picked out
for the hanging. By then there must have been fifty or sixty people with us,
and more coming all the time. Somebody had brought a noose-rope, and
they slung it over the limb of a big china-berry tree beside the road. I
remember it was a china-berry tree because I was barefoot, and the dry ber-
ries hurt my feet. Somebody else had an old apple-crate, so they stood it on
end and put the colored man, still tied up, on top of it and dropped the
noose over his head. He didn't move or say a word, just stood there on that
crate looking at the ground and scowling meaner than ever. The man in the
hat asked him did he have any last words to say before he was hung. He still
didn't say nothing, just lifted up his head to look at us all. His chest was
heaving like he was winded, but his proud black face didn't show anything
as he calmly spat at the man in the hat. Then one of the women screamed
and the next thing we knew the Taylor boy had done run up and kicked that
crate right out from under him."
The girl's eyes clouded; her grandmother cleared her throat and went
"He never made a sound, except a little gurgling noise. I heard his
neck snap, and everybody cheered, and then he was just hanging there,
swaying a little, his eyes and tongue bulging out and the flies lighting on
him. A dog started to growl and snap at his feet swinging there. The man in
the hat kicked him, and he went away whining.
"Just then one of the boys ran up and, with a wild yell, started to chop
off one of the dead nigger's fingers with his pocket-knife. It didn't come
off easy, but that boy was determined, and managed to take it off at the se-
cond joint. He said he was keeping it for a trophy, and started running
around showing it to people and scaring the girls. I'll never forget the look
on that boy's face: all proud and manly-like. It's a good thing for a boy to
see justice at work first hand like that. Keeps him from getting any funny
notions. Anyway, he must have given all of them an idea, cause then all the
men started in to cutting parts off that body for momentos. By time my
daddy got close enough, there wasn't much left except a couple of toes, but
he got one for me anyway, and I kept it safe all these years." The old
woman ceased her speech with a final, judgemental nod, a hideous yellow
grin splitting her weathered face obscenelv.
With sick mesmerization, the little girl watched her grandmother slow-
ly unwinding the brown paper package. The old woman held out a two-inch
stump of petrified black flesh, her eyes glowing with pride. The girl took it
and swung it gently back and forth on the bit of cotton string tied around it,
torn between horror and fascination. Tears filled her eyes; tears of shame,
of mourning barely comprehended for ideals lost before fully formed. The
roar of the past in her ears drowned out her grandmother's voice as in the
distance a clap of thunder sounded an answering reverberation.
The cat stretched lanquidly on the rough boards, jumped indifferently
to the ground, and stalked away on sleep- and age-stiffened legs, throwing a
glance of contemptuous deprecation over his shoulder at the grotesque
tableau. As he disappeared from view, a gentle rain began to fall, washing
the dust of the past and the tears of the future together into the river of life.
"My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar,
And I must pause till it come back to me."
Yet not your eyes
Look out at me
From a face
That is almost yours.
Could she give them the life
The wide-eyed devoted attention
The facsimile of captivated fascination-
If those eyes could illuminate the world
And even I
Perhaps, for a moment, she could bring you
Although I know she cannot.
Bounces, turns upon her head
-Identical in hue-
Distinguishing you from all others
Proclaiming uniqueness in mind and spirit
By the outward physical display.
But though I remain obsessed with the memory
of your surface features,
The incomplete person within you plagues
Those feelings which sought refuge in concealment
-The awareness which desperately sought
alleviation through repress ion-
The insecurities I touched...
The greatest of frustrations has stifled my
Your life, and therefore your
Has been captured.
And to put my pain in stupid, trite phrases
Would lead me to say that
Night has descended upon the sun
And it will never rise again.
To hope for comfort in empty promises of heaven
You had found heaven here-
A better place...
And lastly, mostly,
You took a portion of
Into the earth with
jf" je— i€^ > *— ft j( i t ===
If you are interested in working on the 1986 Calliope
staff, or in submitting work for consideration in that edition,
please contact Dr. Richard Raymond in the Department of
Languages, Literature and Dramatic Arts, Lower Floor,
Gamble Hall. Calliope welcomes prose, poetry, and nonfic-
tion work in all fields, as well as photographs and sketches.
All pieces submitted must be the work of students, staff, or
faculty members of Armstrong State College. Work should
be submitted by the end of Fall Quarter for best chance of
Your future.Your mind.
wm M STATE COL LECjt
Dr. Richard Raymond
Armstrong State College
A Unit of the University System of Georgia
Calliope, 1986 was a pleasure to create. Numerous submissions,
dedicated personnel and a multitude of student support made the task a
simple one. Although at times we felt some despair, the ritual was well
worth the time and effort.
Without the help of certain patient people this publication would have
remained dormant. We would like to express our sincere appreciation to
the following people: Dr. Richard Raymond, Faculty Advisor; Peter
Clonts, Technical Advisor; Jeff Guile, Artistic Advisor; and last, but never
least, to all of the students and faculty who submitted to Calliope.
We regret not being able to publish all of the works we received. Due
to limited spacing, however, certain works had to be omitted.
We would also like to express our gratitude to the Lillian and Frank W.
Spencer Foundation. Their generous contribution made the award for the
best fiction or poetic submission possible.
The construction of Calliope was truly a bountiful task. Due to the
quality of last year's edition we were challenged to our maximum potential.
We, the editors hope you enjoy Calliope. Our staff constructed the
magazine — you were our inspiration.
Thank you for your support.
Cover by Edward Jenkins
"PROPS AND PILLARS":
ESSAYS ON LITERATURE
Photo by John Guile
DEALING WITH STRESS: A REVIEW
OF ISLANDS IN THE STREAM
Elana E. Evans
Maria B. Dunn
MAMA YOUNGER— TYRANNY AND TENDERNESS
LIGHT ON THE BLIGHTED STAR:
THE CHARACTER OF TESS
James R. Brown
TELLING THE TRUTH MOSTLY:
POEMS, NARRATIVES, STORIES
Sketch by Michael West
Dr. Steve Ealy
Photo by Jeff Guile
Dr. Steve Ealy
Sketch by Marius Ruja
Dr. Steve Ealy
Photo by Jeff Guile
Dr. Robert Strozier
AN ESSAY ON:
THE MYSTER Y OF ED WIN DROOD
TO TRAP A RAT
QUESTIONS FORCED UPON
ME BY MYSELF
Photo by Jeff Guile
CAN YOU KEEP IT?
SUN AND RAIN
TO HER KILLJOY PROFESSOR
S. A. Hooks
Claudia T. Welch
FOR THE SANTIAGOS OF OUR TIME
' 'PROPS and
Photo by John Guile
The following is an essay written in response to a topic assigned in
English 192. The paper is written under the pretense that it is 1970, and
Ernest Hemingway's novel, Islands in The Stream has just recently been
published. As an editorialist for "Time" magazine, I have chosen to review
Hemingway's novel and discuss the paradox of this suicidal author, and the
courageous character he created.
DEALING WITH STRESS: A REVIEW
of ISLANDS IN THE STREAM
When the "great storyteller" Ernest Hemingway died ten years ago,
the world mourned his passing. No longer could an avid reader hope to lose
himself in the action and splendor of a new Hemingway novel. He would
have to be content with former masterpieces, such as The Sun Also Rises
and The Old Man and The Sea. Although many great authors have died,
none to date have been able to resurrect themselves. Ernest Hemingway,
however, somehow managed this feat by giving his readers one, last, spec-
tacular novel, ten years after his suicide.
Although Hemingway's new novel, Islands In The Stream, was not
edited and revised by the author himself, there is still no doubt in this
reader's mind that every sentence is undeniably Hemingway. Upon reading
the novel, I discovered such emotion and action, that I could not pass up the
opportunity to review the novel for Time subscribers.
In a society which is slowly turning to methods of lust to attract
readers, Hemingway has provided a novel that dares to go against the nor-
mal trend. Hemingway accepted the idea that "it is (a) privilege to help
man endure by lifting his heart," as William Faulkner said in The
Stockholm Address, "by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope
and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory
of his past." Hemingway's new novel encompasses all of these emotions
and more. It is ironic that a man who committed suicide could create a
novel with these traits, which are shown through one man, Thomas Hud-
son, who refuses to give in to despair.
The main character in Islands in The Stream is Thomas Hudson. He
lives on an island, secluded from both his sons and a large portion of socie-
ty. He is an artist, and throughout his entire life, he has hidden his emo-
tions from those who love him by throwing himself into his work.
Hudson's life is filled with grief and despair, but he deals with this grief by
using courage and strength. He is a man who possesses many of the
qualities that his creator lacked. Hemingway obviously could not bear the
pain and despair of life, although he fashioned a character who could en-
Hudson's grief is constant throughout the novel, and there is even
evidence of this in the very beginning of the story. A divorce is a tragic
thing to go through, and Thomas Hudson has been through two. He
realizes that "he.. never cared, truly, about success. What he (cares) about
(is) painting and his children and he (is) still in love with the first woman he
had been in love with"(8). Therefore, much of Hudson's grief springs from
his own loneliness and discontent. To cope with this loneliness, Hudson
uses his work, art, to fill his days and nights. He paints the sea, because he
has grown to love the violent "crashing of the surf" and the beauty of the
water and sand(5). The sea brings him comfort, for he knows that most
things are both violent and beautiful.
Interestingly, love is not Hudson's only cause of grief. Most of the
pain is caused by the loss of his three sons, who were very special to their
father. Hudson finds it difficult to express the way he feels, so he holds his
pain inside and refuses to come to terms with himself. It would seem that
with so much pain inside, Hudson would be forced to find yet another way
to cope. He does indeed. What better way to forget life's problems than
drowning them in a bottle of rum. Becoming intoxicated provides only a
temporary relief for Thomas' grief, but "there are no terms to be made with
sorrow... (time) is supposed to cure it, (but) if it is cured by anything less
than death, the chances are that it was not true sorrow"(185).
It is evident that Hudson cannot rid himself of the pain that he carries
inside. He tries various ways to ease his sorrow. Besides drinking and his
art, Hudson, later in the novel, uses his military service as an aphrodisiac.
He puts one hundred percent of himself into his pursuit of the Germans.
He enjoys this because he is close to the sea, and he knows that a man must
be a man and perform his duty. Hudson believes that he must "(get) it
straight. Your son you lose. Love you lose. Honor has been gone for a
long time. Duty you do"(307).
Although Thomas Hudson finds it hard to relate his emotions to
others, he does, however, find no difficulty in sharing his true feelings with
his cats. Hudson's motley harem of felines provides an excellent release for
the man. To him, the cats agree that there are no answers to life's ques-
tions, "(there aren't) any solution(s)" (193). There can be no logical reason
why a man should lose three sons in his lifetime. Therefore, Hudson does
not look for logical reasons; he looks for nothing at all.
There is a strong resemblance between the lives of Thomas Hudson and
Ernest Hemingway. Both men were artists and both held the same ideas of
courage and duty. It would seem, then, that somehow, like the character he
created, Hemingway could have found some way to hold on to life. Hud-
son used his art, and it was not until "(he) looked up and (saw) the sky that
he had always loved and he looked across the great lagoon that he was quite
sure, now, he would never paint," that he realized he was going to die (435).
When his desire to paint died, so did he. Could it not be possible then that
Hemingway, upon realizing that his desire to write had died, decided that
there was no reason to live? Or, could it be that when the strength and
courage of Thomas Hudson died, Hemingway could find none of these
qualities in himself? Hemingway may have used his character as a prop to
help him last a few months longer. As Faulkner stated so well, "The poet's
voice need not merely be the record of man; it can be one of the props, the
pillars to help him endure and prevail!" Hemingway may have written not
only to satisfy the needs of the public, but also, to satisfy his own needs.
Elana E. Evans
The use of dramatic point of view in 'The Lottery" permits Shirley
Jackson to build up to her effectively shocking conclusion. The characters
are commonplace and the setting is deceivingly pleasant, yet throughout the
story, there are foreshadowing suggestions that something disagreeable ex-
ists about this lottery.
Through the dramatic point of view, Jackson presents flat but highly
symbolic characters. For example, there is Dickie Delacroix whose last
name means "of the cross," and, of course, the crucifixion of Jesus Christ
established the cross as a symbol of sacrifice. The author further em-
phasizes the name by informing us that "the villagers pronounced this name
'Dellacroy'," perhaps as a token of unfamiliarity or strangeness. And then
there is the official of the lottery, Mr. Summers, who ironically works for a
coal company: coal is a commodity associated with winter, and winter is a
season linked with death. He carries the black wooden box into the square
and draws in the lottery himself, but is a surprizingly "jovial man" and
"people were sorry for him, because he had no children and his wife was a
scold." Mr. Summers, one could safely state, is a walking contradiction.
Finally, there is the tardy Mrs. Hutchinson whose character mildly recalls
the typical schoolroom scapegoat. As she begins to make her way through
the crowd, "the people separated good humoredly" and after she locates
her family, there is a "soft laughter." Something about Tessie Hutchinson
and the crowd signals trouble ahead for her. Even when Tessie is speaking
to Mrs. Delacroix, who would later hurl the largest stone at her, there is an
uneasiness about Tessie. She appears to be in a hurried state at the beginn-
ing of the lottery, and later becomes defiant and frantic at her stoning.
If all the previously mentioned symbolic characters are overlooked,
Jackson's prosaic setting should certainly summon up the reader's curiosity
as to the outcome of the lottery. As Mr. Summers starts to call names from
his list, the intensity among the crowd can be felt. This crowd of families is
portrayed in a square, with a pile of stones and a black box; and it is almost
high noon on summer's day. All of the aforementioned details call to mind
a ritualistic gathering from the past when people made sacrifices to the gods
for a plentiful crop or a heavy rain. Indeed, the box from which the
townspeople draw slips of paper invites an intimating paragraph about the
history of this lottery. We learn that the lottery has been going on for some
time. The author again employs symbolism at this point when she has Old
Man Warner state that it is his seventy-seventh time in the lottery, the
number seven signifying luck. Mr. Summers and Mr. Adams (Adam, the
first man in the story of Creation and, consequently, the first man to take
risks) "grinned at one another humorlessly and nervously." Up until this
point, it may be difficult to see that there is something sinister about this
game of chance. As the story develops, our suspicions are confirmed when
Tessie becomes angry over Bill's picking out the spotted piece of paper. She
insists on doing it over, but her protests are in vain. She even becomes
slightly violent when "she snatched a paper out and held it behind her." All
of the Hutchinsons reveal their slips of paper, and it is Tessie who has got
the spotted one. She is then "quickly" stoned to death.
Shirley Jackson's masterful story told in the dramatic point of view
contains all the elements necessary in creating a startling conclusion. It does
contain some clues that are not evident on the first reading. Although her
characters are flat, Jackson's use of the objective point of view gives this
story the quality of being universal; this horrific incident could have occur-
red anywhere. As a story and to serve a purpose, "The Lottery" illustrates
how tradition can become uncontrollably dangerous, and how the past and
present (if one can imagine that something like this is done as a seasonal of-
fering) are still closely linked.
Maria B. Dunn
Critics have discussed Sammy's associating women with animals in
John Updike's "A&P." He refers to them as sheep, pigs, and creatures on
about the same level, such as withches and houseslaves. But it has not been
mentioned that he thinks of Queenie as an animal too, a cat to be exact.
Nor are any of the other catlike descriptions mentioned either.
Although Sammy places Queenie above the other women, he still
thinks of her as a lower species than himself. He refers to her as the
"Queen." This label is significant because a female cat is called a queen.
His descriptions of her are further proof of this connotation. For instance,
she puts on an air of independence and pride. Rather than being led, she
leads the other two girls, possibly her kittens. Aloof and catlike she does
not look around. She walks straight, "...on these long white prima-donna
legs," in her feline way, slowly "...testing the floor with every step, putting
a little deliberate extra action into it." She is stalking some prey, perhaps
fish — herring snacks. To Sammy, Queenie is sexy and sophisticated. He
likes her, but she can not have a mind: "do you really think it's a mind in
there or just a little buzz like a bee in a glass jar?" But in his effort to define
this particular female he shows that he is essentially an amorous tomcat.
Sammy is so overcome by his satyriasis that he devotes the majority of
the story to Queenie' s anatomy and describes her in cat-like terms. He
singles out her "clean bare plane of the top of her chest down form her
shoulder bones like a dented sheet of metal tilted in the light. I mean it was
more than pretty" — an exact description of the bib or chest of a cat, always
clean, smooth, and shiny. Her face also belongs to a cunning creature; he
describes it a "prim," which means "demure," "sedate," "quiet," "com-
posed" and "serious," all adjectives which might be used to describe a
Siamese or Manx. She holds her head high making her neck look stretched,
but this is no disappointment for Sammy, who is attracted to her feline ar-
rogance. Conscious of her superiority, she feigns indifference to those
around her. Sammy notes that she must have noticed Stoksie and him wat-
ching, but she would not let on. "Not this queen." Sammy shows signs of
nervousness, but of course this tomcat does not give up.
Because of Sammy's continuous stare, Queenie glances at the girls, her
"kittens." She must protect them, and make sure they are behaving. As
kittens would do, they "kind of huddled against her for relief, and then
they all three of them went up the "cat and dog food aisle." Certainly, be-
ing finicky this queen passes this aisle and heads for the real meat counter.
One of the kittens, the chunky one, is momentarily attracted to a box
of cookies just as kittens like toads and green lizards, which are bad for
them. But on second thought, maybe she should follow Queenie's example;
surely there is something better than this at the end of the hunt. Similarly,
as a kitten matures it will learn which creatures are nutritious, and will try,
like its mother, for birds and mice.
Other creatures in the store are at first startled by the three, but since
sheep and houseslaves do not feel threatened by the cats, they return to
grazing. And Queenie goes on cooly, "walking against the usual traffic" as
a cat so often does, "with her feet padding along naked over our cream
As Sammy becomes more overwhelmed, his descriptions become less
subtle. One can nearly hear the emphasis he is conveying in such prases as:
"Kingfish Fancy Herring Snacks in Pure Sour Cream," a cat's delight; or
smooth "icecream coats," like the coats of many Persians. As the tomcat
overpowers him, he depicts her "two smoothest scoops of vanilla... her nar-
row pink palm." He also "nestled the herring... twisted its neck," as cruel
as a cat.
Almost as if Queenie and Chunky are aware of Sammy's portrayal,
when reprimanded by Lengel for their attire, they show true feline
responses. Queenie becomes temporarily embarrassed when scolded, a ge-
nuine catlike emotion. And Chunky lashes out at her pretentious enemy,
just as a kitten would do. As Lengel pursues his reproachment, Queenie
remembers her place and says, "We are decent." She begins to strike back,
lower lip stiffening, claws out, voice hissing, and eyes flashing deep blue
like those of a Siamese.
Sammy quits his job trying to make points with the girls. So the tomcat
strolls into the parking lot to claim his reward, but cats do not give anyone
credit for favors rendered. They are nowhere in sight, and the tomcat,
through this crisis, realizes "how hard the world was going to
be... hereafter." Now crown the Queen!
TYRANNY AND TENDERNESS
In the play Raisin In The Sun Lorraine Hansberry initially portrays
Mama Younger as the matriarchal, sometimes tyrannical, ruler of the
Younger household. Hansberry shows Mama's tyrannical nature from the
outset of the play in Mama's reaction to her son and grandson leaving the
house in the morning: "Who that 'round here slamming doors at this
hour?" Obviously, Mama has staked her claim as the person who decides
how this household runs. Yet as the play proceeds, we see Mama as much
more than just a tyrant. We see that Mama deeply loves her family and that
she is sensitive and caring enough to give her family what they need in their
Mama first shows her depth of character in her relationship with her
daughter-in-law, Ruth. Mama initially expresses her opinion that Ruth is
not giving Travis, Mama's grandson, adequate nourishment. Mama asks,
"What you fix for his breakfast this morning?" Irritated at Mama's in-
sinuation that she is inadequately caring for her family Ruth replies, "I feed
my son Lena! I gave him hot oats — is that all right!" Most people would
now apologize because they realize their interference is not welcome. Not
only does Mama not apologize, she adds insult to injury: "Put a lot of nice
butter on it? He likes lots of butter." This seems to prove Mama to be a
tyrant. It also seems to show that Mama is totally insensitive to Ruth and
Yet, as Ruth contemplates an abortion and her marriage with Walter
becomes increasingly hostile, Mama shows a great deal of sensitivity and
love to Ruth. As Walter tells Ruth that he doesn't want her around him,
Mama comes to Ruth's defense: "Walter, what is the matter with you?
Ruth's a good, patient girl in her way... don't make the mistake of driving
that girl away from you." Mama shows here a great deal of respect and love
for Ruth — love and respect for Ruth that totally contradicts the impression
left by Mama's earlier comments to her. Mama again defends Ruth to
Walter as Walter finds out about Ruth's contemplation of abortion:
"When the world gets ugly enough — a woman will do anything."
In these instances Mama shows a depth of character that adds a great
deal more to her than just the tyrannical side. She shows a great deal of love
for Ruth and she also shows extreme sensitivity to Ruth's feelings and situa-
tions. Mama's defense of Ruth's contemplation of abortion is decidely sur-
prising considering Mama is a very religious woman. Mama's actions show
an understanding of another person's plight at the expense of her own
Religion also plays an important part of Mama's first encounter with
her daughter Beneatha. Mama's reaction to Beneatha saying there is no
God is that she slaps Beneatha across the face and makes her recite: "In my
mother's house there is still God." Between this and Mama telling
Beneatha, "There are some ideas we ain't going to have in this house. Not
long as I am at the head of this family," Mama can only be thought of as a
But are these the only feelings Mama shows to Beneatna; Mama
respects her daughter enough to support her in wanting to go to medical
school. She is the same daughter who Mama once asked — "Why you got to
flit so from one thing to another, baby?" Believing Mama to only be tyran-
nical, one would think Mama would just tell her daughter to forget such
nonsense and marry her rich boyfriend George. Yet Mama supports her
daughter not only in becoming a doctor but in her decision not to marry
Mama's poignant speech to Beneatha telling her to love her brother
even after he lost her money for college shows her deep religious beliefs and
her developing depth of character:
There is always something left to love. And if you
ain't learned that, you ain't learned nothing. Have you
cried for that boy today? I don't mean for yourself and for
the family 'cause we lost the money. I mean for him; what
he been through and what it done to him. When you starts
measuring somebody, measure him right child, measure
him right. Make sure you done taken into account what
hills and valleys he come through before he got to wherever
This unequivocally shows the qualities of Mama's character. Mama shows
love, compassion, and the Biblical teaching of turn the other cheek.
In this speech Mama also shows the love she has for her son, Walter.
This instance, accompanied by other confrontations between Mama and
Walter, shows that Mama's character runs true to form. When Walter
wants to take the insurance money and invest in a liquor store, Mama ex-
plains to him in no uncertain terms that it isn't possible: "There ain't going
to be no investing in no liquor stores. I don't aim to have to speak on that
again." Mama's decision leads Walter to quit his job and start drinking.
The tyrannical Mama would tell him to act like a man, yet the insightful,
compassionate Mama realizes that she has caused Walter's problems.
Realizing this, she relinquishes her authority as head of the Younger
Listen to me now. I say I been wrong, son. There
ain't nothing as precious to me.... There ain't nothing
worth holding on to, money, dreams, nothing else— if it
means — if it means it's going to destroy my boy. Monday
morning I want you to take this money.... It isn't much,
but it's all I got in the world and I'm putting it in your
hands. I'm telling you to be the head of this family from
now on like you supposed to be.
This brings Walter out of his despair until he loses the money to his friend
Willy. Even after he loses the money Mama continues to love her son, as
shown in her speech to Beneatha, and she continues to allow him to make
the family decisions.
Walter's final decision is whether or not to move to their new house in
the all-white neighborhood. After initially deciding not to move and to sell
the house back to the neighborhood people, Walter changes his mind and
tells Mr. Linder that they're going to move because — "My father — he
earned it." The point is that no matter what decision Walter made Mama
was going to abide by it. As she tells Mr. Linder, "I am afraid you don't
understand. My son said we was going to move and there ain't nothing left
for me to say."
In her relationship with Walter, Mama shows over and over the
tenderness and caring she has for her family. Walter, more than anyone,
gives reason enough for Mama to be a tyrant. Instead of becoming a tyrant
that totally dominates Walter, she becomes a sensitive mother that loves her
Mama repeatedly shows that there is more to her than tyranny. Even
though she can be tyrannical if the situation calls for it, she also proves that
she can be loving, sensitive, and full of tenderness given the necessary cir-
cumstances. Mama will never stop being a mother to her children. She will
express her opinion if she feels it's needed; she will also give her children the
support and love that they need to become the best adults they can be.
LIGHT ON THE BLIGHTED STAR:
THE CHARACTER OF TESS
The world of Thomas Hardy is a bleak one, governed by chance and
accident, or perhaps a capricious God. The men and women of Hardy's
novels live lives of misery, misery all too infrequently mitigated by brief
periods of happiness which usually end up intensifying the sorrow. Amid
the darkness of this universe and the imbroglio of human error, there seems
precious little to be hopeful about. If there is no hope in the novels of
Thomas Hardy, why should anyone read them? Is there anything in
Hardy's darkened vision that serves to inspire or uplift? The answers to
these questions, I feel, are that there is hope in Hardy's novels and there is
something to inspire the reader. This something is Hardy's characteriza-
tion. Take, for example, Tess d'Urberville, the heroine of the novel that
bears her name. There is something about Tess that not only captivates
readers and critics alike, but also provides some measure of hope in an
otherwise dismal world. Tess says that she lives on a "blighted
star"(25),but through her suffering, her resiliency and a certain innate puri-
ty, by the novel's end she somehow makes life on the star a bit easier to
Human suffering is absolutely crucial to a Thomas Hardy novel. In
Tess, the heroine's suffering accomplishes two things. First, Tess' pain
elicits the reader's sympathy for Tess. This is especially true in the early sec-
tions of the novel, before her fall. Tess' suffering can be either physical or
emotional. The scene in which the Durbeyfield horse, Prince, is killed, is a
prime example of emotional pain which makes the reader feel sorry for
Tess. Tess takes all the blame for the accident, despite the fact that had her
father not been drunk she never would have had to be making the midnight
sojourn. "'Tis all my doing — all mine.... No excuse for me — none," she
laments (27). Her pain goes further than simple guilt, for Hardy makes it
clear that Tess feels like a "murderess" (28). Hardy furthers the reader's
sympathy for Tess in the scenes preceding her seduction. While walking
homeward with her fellow workers, Tess' innocent laughter at Car Darch's
humorous predicament results in a near fight and ends up precipitating her
unhappy seduction (57). The scenes with Alec which depict the false
d'Urberville as a lecherous villain also create sympathy for Tess (60, 45).
Hardy reserves Tess' real suffering for a different purpose. Regardless
of the extent of her consent in the seduction, Tess still broke a moral rule.
She must pay for her error. (This type of suffering has a good deal to do
with the subject of Tess' purity, which will be discussed later.) Irving Howe
writes, "In her violation, neglect and endurance Tess comes to seem
Hardy's most radical claim for the redemptive power of suffering..."
Tess begins paying quite early, with the scorn of her neighbors and
subsequent birth of her child. Tess suffers when the village folk whisper
about her in church. "She knew what their whispers were about, grew sick
at heart and felt that she could come to church no more" (72). Tess' at-
titude toward the baby is also a source of pain. In a way, she bitterly resents
it, for it is a symbol of her error; but her maternal instinct is also very
strong, and she loves the baby. Her pain surrounding the child climaxes
with its death (81). Though her child dies, her guilt lives on, and she carries
it with her to her new job at Talbothays. Perhaps worse than physical suf-
fering, Tess is losing her sense of self-worth. "My life looks as if it has been
wasted," she says (107). Even in her relationship with Angel Clare, Tess
cannot be wholly happy. "She walked in brightness but she knew that in
the background those shapes were always spread" (164). Her emotional
suffering reaches a peak after she confesses her sin to Angel, only to have
him refuse forgiveness. His rejection is an affirmation to her of what she
had long felt: that she is a wicked person, not fit for life with Angel (192).
This suffering is followed by terrible physical suffering at Flintcomb Ash.
The work and desolate environment reduce her to the level of an insect
(238). Hardy's descriptions of Flintcomb Ash and Tess' work, both in the
fields and on the thresher machine, probably rival anything in Dickens. In
this wasteland Tess works and dreams of Angel.
By the novel's end the suffering becomes too much. The death of her
father, the ousting of her family from the village and the ironic untimely
return of Angel Clare push Tess over the edge. Rosemary Benzig says Tess
is "driven by suffering to madness" (204). The fascinating thing about
Tess' suffering is how willingly she accepts it. D. H. Lawrence writes that
Tess "respects utterly the other's right to be." Tess' patience and passivity
is, I think, inspiring. In the face of human error and aggression, be it the
low villainy of Alec or the lofty hypocrisy of Angel or the common ig-
norance of the country folk, Tess is nearly always strong but never intrusive
If Tess is amazing, because she accepts her pain so willingly, she is even
more incredible in that she maintains her resiliency and her personality at
the same time. Until the very end she never breaks. Howe writes, "she is
human life stretched and racked, yet forever springing back to renewal"
(440). The novel is thick with examples of Tess' resiliency, which is the real-
ly inspiring aspect of her suffering. An early example is Tess' reaction to
the Biblical verse painter whom she meets after her fall. The verses are
about adultery and damnation, but Tess shows us that she is not going to be
broken by them. "Pooh," she says, "I don't believe God said such things"
(68). It is not a rejection of God, only a rejection of the Old Testament
mentality. When the church will not baptize her infant, Tess decides that
she will do it herself (80). She refuses to let the stuffier conventions of
religion destroy her spirit. Tess' burial of her infant is a heart-rending af-
fair. Denied permission to bury him in the churchyard, she lays him in the
"shabby corner of God's allotment.... where all unbaptized infants,
notorious drunkards and suicides are laid" (83). Tess makes a little cross
from sticks and twine and leaves some flowers in a marmalade jar.
The very fact that Tess survives Angel's rejection is a tribute to her
resiliency. She is deeply, deeply hurt, angry more at herself than at him, but
she goes on with life, always with the hope that he will return. When she
stumbles upon the wounded pheasants in the field, she puts them out of
their misery, exclaiming, "...to suppose myself the most miserable being on
earth in the sight o' such misery as yours." It does not take much to stop
Tess from feeling bad about her plight. Even at Flintcomb Ash, Tess re-
mains strong. In one description of the frozen, ugly field that Tess works
in, three words leap out: "Still Tess hoped" (239). She seems a woman who
will not give up. I feel that even her dubious mental state at the end of the
novel and her murder Alec are in evidence of her resiliency. Despite her im-
plied madness, Tess' actions in the last chapters are essentially healthy, if
that term can be used. Tess is still striving to get back with Angel and the
murder of Alec is a means to that end. Basically, Alec's lechery and villainy
are the Chief causes of Tess' fate, and he deserves punishment of some type.
Dorothy Van Ghent defends the murder: "Tess is finally creative by the on-
ly measure of creativeness that this universe holds, the measure of the in-
stinctive and the natural" (438). Alec is the only person who masters Tess
in a negative fashion; thus, he must die so that Tess can be free of his stain.
The combination of suffering and resiliency leads to what is perhaps
the most important thing about Tess: her purity. Hardy caused quite a stir
when he insisted in his subtitle that a murderess and an adulteress could be
pure. Hardy based his claim on Tess' intentions, which he considered
blameless. W. Eugene Davis has some doubts, however, about Tess' real
intentions. He says that Hardy is unclear in his treatment of the seduction
and the events during the weeks afterward and that Hardy leaves too much
to the imagination. Davis says that the reader ends up loving the strong,
passionate, impure Tess. I disagree. First of all, I think Hardy is quite clear
in his treatment of the seduction. "Doubtless some of Tess d'Urberville's
mailed ancestors rollicking home from a fray had dealt the same measure
even more ruthlessly, towards peasant girls of their time"(63). If this does
not indicate some type of force on the part of Alec, then I don't know what
does. Secondly, Davis ignores the extent of Tess' suffering in the novel.
Her emotional and physical pains are like a penance. They cleanse her of
whatever sin she may have committed. Tess' purity is not an ordinary, con-
ventional one. It transcends ordinary morality and ordinary chastity.
Howe says that Tess is beyond the stain of her circumstances and that she
"embodies a feeling for the inviolability of the person" (441). Her in-
violability is rooted in her ability to accept suffering and in her good will
for the people with whom she comes in contact. Tess is an adulteress, but
she comes much closer to the real Christian ideal of chastity than just about
Thomas Hardy's universe is an oppressive, unjust place, but it is not
the universe that he creates that is most important in his novels. What is im-
portant is the unbelievable achievements of his heroes in the face of oppres-
sion. The events of Tess' life are rotten. Nonetheless, Tess becomes a
beautifully whole person. She is passionate, tender, merciful, kind and lov-
ing in a world that is none of these things. Tess of the d'Urbervilles is a
story not about the degeneracy and falseness and injustice of the world;
rather, it is a story about the triumph of the human spirit against over-
James Richard Brown
Benzig, Rosemary. "In Defense of 'Tess'." Contemporary
Review. April 1971: 202-205.
Davis, W. Eugene. "Tess of the d'Urbervilles: Some
Ambiguities About Pure Women." Nineteenth
Century Fiction. March 1968: 397-401.
Hardy, Thomas. Tess of the d'Urbervilles. Ed. Scott
Elledge. London and New York: W. W. Norton
and Company, 1979.
Howe, Irving. "Tess of the d'Urbervilles — At the Center of
Hardy's Achievement." Tess of the d'Urbervilles.
Ed. Scott Elledge. London and New York: W. W.
Norton and Company, 1979. 439-455.
Lawrence, D. H. "The Male and Female Principles in 'Tess of
the d'Urbervilles'." Tess of the d'Urbervilles. Ed.
Scott Elledge. London and New York: W. W.
Norton and Company, 1979. 406-410.
Van Ghent, Dorothy. "On 'Tess of the d'Urbervilles'."
Tess of the d'Urbervilles. Ed. Scott Elledge. Lon-
don and New York: W. W. Norton and Company,
v ,^> ■ _s-
—3- . yt:
A few years back when I was still living at home, I had the advantage of
owning a small, wooden bateau of about twelve feet in length and of narrow
beam. Being a rather small craft, it was very light and easy to tip over;
nevertheless, it was a sturdy vessel capable of carrying three without too
much fear of capsizing. Although it was rather crude looking from its
uneven lines, it handled very well under most circumstances, and it provided
my partners and me freedom from the clutches of land.
I found it one day during a search for a boat that would take us to a
neighboring island for a weekend camp. It belonged to a friend on the op-
posite end of the isle. Tony Dentee and his father had built the boat, and it
was serving Mrs. Dantee as a planter in a corner of their backyard. Conn-
ing Tony into letting me borrow it was a trick, but he told me he would sell
it for thirty dollars plus my prized skateboard, which in those days was con-
sidered a hard bargain.
"Twenty-five dollars and the skateboard," I countered, "and you
throw in two paddles."
Deliberating for a moment, he smiled and said, "Fine, but you must
make sure my mom doesn't see you take it, and be careful of her plants."
"Great," I replied. "You get the paddles, and I'll get the boat."
Tony helped me carry the boat home where we threw it in the tidal
creek that runs behind my house. The bateau proved itself that camping
trip, and I was won over by its ability to fascinate me.
The bateau led me away from land and into the marshes behind my
house for long tours after school. It took me to small islands in search of
driftwood and to quiet fishing holes where the only sound was gentle waves
lapping against the hull and blood rushing in my ears. We ran together
along the edges of Wormsloe Plantation seeking out snowy egrets resting in
overhanging oaks. Old black men fishing on the bank would shout, "Move
on Son, ya chasin' my luck!" as I cut too close to their lines stretching in the
breeze. Paddling quietly, I caressed the water to slip past deer along the
banks on my way to the fishing holes hidden in the fog. These were the
times I treasured most when I became part of the nature surrounding me.
My love for the new paths opened to me was also caught by my friend,
Will. "Let's go out in the boat. Let's go fishing. Let's go for a cruise," he
Having someone to join me in this pleasure was fun, and eventually we
built a small dock out into the river inlet. The dock, built of small logs and
lumber borrowed from old tree forts, included a floating section at the very
end. It was located adjacent to our small camping area on the lagoon that
we used for a summer swimming hole.
The first weekend after the dock was completed, Will and I camped
there. We spent that night in lounge chairs at the end of the dock watching
the waves carry firelight across the water. Although the images warmed our
souls, a deeper burning penetrated our empty stomachs. Such was the ef-
fect of our father's Canadian Whiskey down our dry gullets.
"Let's go get some crabs," Will said jumping up. "I know of two
traps just out in the river," he grunted as he slipped and fell into the bateau.
The moon was up, so we paddled out and pirated the traps. This later
became a ritual to be repeated quite often without regard for the crab pot-
My stepfather owned a small, three horsepower boat motor that we
"borrowed" upon occasion when we camped on islands beyond the reach
of paddles, and it proved useful in night fishing and gigging with a Coleman
lantern. Once, while holding the lantern to light a narrow channel, we were
besieged by a school of alarmed mullett as they jumped out of the water
toward the light. It was quite an experience to have all the fish we wanted
jump into the boat.
I later let another friend take my boat to his home in Tarboro, South
Carolina, so that he could hunt deer in the swamp behind his house. There
it stayed for the longest time, out of my reach until I became the proud
owner of a Volkswagen "Bug." Will and I then made several trips to the
swamp to camp and fish. I had the perfect boat for the swamp because it
could easily snake in and out of the large cypress groves through patches of
moss that covered parts of the waterway. The only element that did not
agree with my boat was the cypress knees. Hidden under the black water,
they relentlessley jabbed the hull until the resulting crack forced me to
remove it from the water for repairs.
The sense of pride and freedom I felt in driving home with my bateau
strapped smartly on top of my Bug was overwhelming. With the Bug's
great gas economy and the bateau on top, I felt I could conquer the world.
"Oh, shit," I said to myself as I saw the strands of rope peeling back
from the front line holding the bow. I started to slow down.
"Oh, shit!" The line snapped and I braked harder. I watched the bow
float up and down, hovering in the 50 mph wind. My eyes followed the bow
up until I got to the rearview mirror where I saw my beloved bateau reeling
end over end behind me as though it did not want to be left stranded.
"Oh, know," I moaned as I ran to remove my little boat from the on-
coming traffic. It was split evenly in half. I screamed in agony as I pulled it
off the highway into the tall grass away from the questioning stares of the
I sat by my destroyed boat and cried the hardest I think I ever have. All
those feelings and emotions I had experienced with this friend came boiling
up, and I think I sat there an hour. Finally I pushed the remains into the
canal running the length of the road. Then I left.
Someday I plan to build another just like it. Until then, I will have to
dwell on the memories it gave me— until my bateau and I again race the
moon's reflection in the dark waters beneath us.
By Chris Weaver
This moment we stand where tomorrow
we will lie.
The thinker thinks,
The singer sings,
The priest prays.
Tomorrow all will be swept
by the tides away.
The shattered heart palpitates,
But feels no more,
Knows too more than did yesterday.
The sorcerer's magic wished by all.
The great ball of fire illuminates and warms
The cold harsh planet.
The beast trods on another day,
Unaware of the gods,
And the tides coyly play.
The demonic serpent slimes through the leaves
Attending his prey.
The fires burn, hell reaps.
What guard does the beast have
From the lethal flames? What armor?
What salve will mend
His cremation of soul?
From sparks and ashes
Does the beast
And flirt with dissolution
Amongst the tides?
Shall leaves on shelves be the beast's
Or shall they cast him in the
The forbidden sweet bearer long since forgot.
Fruit was gained and paradise lost.
So the beast became more than slime on a rock.
The beast became
Yet ruler and murderer of the land.
So thinker think, singer sing, priest pray,
Tomorrow all will be swept by the tides
What will float the soul amongst the
Waves; the warning now before the sea of
The buzzard shall swarm, the dove
Will appear not.
The wailing and echoes of tears will be heard
In the darkness beyond where
The only sound is none.
Creation, Evolution, Desolation,
Has been done.
By Jeffery Smith
The light which illuminated the room came from the small lamp on my
nightstand. I lay in bed attempting to interpret the evening paper, while
shadows of darkness draped the corners of my bedroom. The clock on my
mantle struck the eleventh hour.
Reading fatigued my eyes and made them lust for silent slumber.
"Buster," I called for my trustworthy companion. He was a small mutt
when I first found him, but he wasted no time in becoming a large and
loveable friend. His body lumbered out of the darkness, which filled the
hall, and stood in the doorway wagging his tail. "It's bedtime Buster," I
told him and he lay beside the bed. I folded the paper properly and turned
off the lamp. Light gave way to darkness.
I reached down with my hand, like so many times before, and Buster
told me goodnight with a lick on the back of my hand; this was a bedtime
ritual. It happened this way every night. I liked it this way and I guess
Buster did too. I closed my eyes and nestled in the bedsheets. I found it
easy to drift to sleep that evening.
Just as I was on the verge of complete relaxation the phone rang. I
fumbled in the darkness for the lamp which I had read by earlier and
answered the phone with a groggy hello. The party on the other side of the
line gave no answer. "Hello," I said a second time. "Listen, if you kids
don't stop this I will have to call the police!" I protested and slammed
down the phone. "Those kids don't have any respect for us people who like
to sleep at this time of night, Buster," I said in a bitter tone. Buster moaned
as if to say," just forget about it." I turned off the lamp and got comfor-
table in my bed.
I lay there wondering about my strange phone call. Could it have been
a practical joke? Could someone have been in trouble and too scared to
speak? No, I was convinced it was just kids. It had happened before around
Halloween. Just then I heard a half-snorted whimper that echoed down the
hall and ended in my bedroom.
I lay there wondering about my strange phone call. Could it have been
a practical joke? Could someone have been in trouble and too scared to
speak? No, I was convinced it was just kids. It had happened before around
Halloween. Just then I heard a half-snorted whimper that echoed down the
hall and ended in my bedroom.
"Buster, here Buster," I called. I could hear him trotting down the
hall. I lowered my hand over the edge of the bed and again he licked my
hand to let me know everything was all right. Somewhere in the darkness I
heard a faint noise that made me suspect a prowler. Fear raced up my spine
and the air in my lungs seemed to almost freeze. "Stay Buster," I said as I
creeped out of bed and down the hall. The clock on the mantle of my
fireplace struck twelve.
I first stopped at the guest bedroom. No one was there, but I took the
baseball bat that was in the closet and creeped on to the next room.
The bathroom was undisturbed. The cap was still off the toothpaste
and water dripped slowly into the sink. The soap remained in the center of
the tub and my towel was still on the floor. My next stop was the den.
I switched on the lamp which rested on the endtable near the couch. It
illuminated the room enough to let me know that no one was there. The old
clock on the mantle of my fireplace ticked louder than before. I had but
one room left. The dining room and kitchen joined to form one room.
My heart raced and beat louder than before. Nervous sweat dripped
off my face as I quietly sneaked down the hall. I knew that he was in this
room or he wasn't in the house.
As if a bolt of lightning had struck my nerves, I remembered the
strange phone call. What if this were the person who had called before?
Was he waiting for me? What lay in store for me when I turned on the light?
Sweat soaked my clothing. I gripped the bat tightly. Somehow, I knew
that danger lurked beyond the doorway. As I turned on the light, my heart-
beat seemed to drown all sense of perception.
Dangling from the light above the kitchen table was the corpse I once
called Buster. The rope around his neck turned him slowly to expose a cut
along the abdominal region of his body. His entrails lay on the table and
resembled a bloody entwinement. Blood dripped from the edge of the large
The horrid sight gagged. I knew I was going to be sick. I ran to the
bathroom in time to heave my nightly snack into the toilet. I grabbed the
washcloth and wiped my tears and mouth.
Sadness and fear seemed to lump in my throat and stomach. We had
been such good friends for so long. Just then the phone rang.
"Hello," I answered. The party on the other side of the line didn't say
a word. "Look, if you don't have anything to say, then don't call me." As
I was hanging up the receiver the person on the phone whispered something
that sounded like a soft murmur. "What?" I demanded. "Humans lick
too," hissed the voice. I dropped the phone as a chill raced up my spine.
How can I,
when Sophie front
row right, nearest
blinks cobwebs away and
shifts and studies
perched on the sill
singing April songs,
"Please PAY ATTENTION-
this material is VERY
IMPORTANT!" when I,
eighteen years later,
still remember that warm
afternoon when I stared
and listened to outside sights
and sounds and missed
what my teacher
and even now, seeing
the new greens and
the soft glow of that
Spring sun and hearing the
murmur of that long ago
daydream afternoon again,
have my breath
taken away once more?
By Steve Ealy
Photo by J. Guile
The wine glass has spilled
The Heart has
The record plays again and then again.
The needle feels the hurt
that the ballad renders.
The forsaken lover triumphs in his misery.
Wondering why not.
What could have been was not.
What should have been is
fantasized the way it always was.
Even the fantasy shall grow dim
The images of sand have washed away.
Reality exults as it always must.
Memories are buried with sorrowful dust
The clock still chimes,
The sun still rises,
the tears will dry.
Love will perhaps one day reflect.
It can never be reflected.
By Jeff Smith
Photo by J. Guile
Ever since, as an undergraduate, I had heard Clarence Jordan, speak, I
have wanted to visit Koinonia Farm. Nestled between Americus and Plains,
Koinonia Farm was founded by Jordan and his wife Florence in 1942 as a
biracial community of faith, and has survived both threatened and actual
violence from the Ku Klux Klan, economic boycotts led by the more respec-
table White Citizen's Council, and its abandonment by many of its original
When I was finally able to visit the farm recently, eighteen years after I
had heard Jordan speak at Furman University, and sixteen years after his
death, I was curious about the emotional climate of the surrounding com-
munities: what did local people think now, and how did they treat Koinonia
and its residents? After a communal lunch, served in the farm's meeting
hall, Florence Jordan invited me to her house. An unseasonably warm Oc-
tober afternoon allowed us to sit on her screened porch and drink iced-tea,
spiced with mint, as we talked.
"Do they think that you're crazy, or dangerous, or do they accept
"No, they don't think we're crazy," she said. Looking out over an
already harvested field, off toward the low-cost housing built and sold to
local Blacks by Koinonia, she continued, "Many respect us now, at least for
our courage. But some of the people around here will never accept us.
After some of the things they did to us, they can't admit that they were
wrong." Clarence Jordan had told of some of the the things they did to
Koinonia when I heard him speak: bombings, sabotage of farm equip-
ment, rifle shots and crosses burning in the night, people fired from their
jobs for associating with Koinonia residents. Today, whether or not they
can admit that they were wrong, whether or not they respect Koinonia and
its people, local people deal with Koinonia, and they let it survive in peace.
Today Koinonia, appears to be thriving, with thirty or so full-time
residents who have committed their lives to the farm and its related opera-
tions, and volunteers who come for a few months at a time. A mail order
business in peanuts, pecans, and fruitcakes continues to grow and brings in
enough money to support the basic necessities of the community's lifestyle.
The day I visited, the aroma of fruitcake filled the air.
As we talked, first about her husband, and then about the early days of
Koinonia, our conversation somehow drifted to South Africa. One Jordan
son had worked in South Africa for a number of years, had married there,
and only recently returned to the States, disheartened over the prospects for
peaceful reform. Florence Jordan told me of her trips to South Africa, and
of her friends there — Beyers Naude and others, some in exile, some in
prison, and some free only at the price of political inactivity. She spoke of
the growing pessimism she sensed. Some see no hope but in violence... As
she talked, images filled my mind — of soldiers firing tear gas and shotguns,
of personnel carriers rolling down empty streets, and of 'Trojan Horse
maneuvers' used to lure protestors close so that they would be easy targets
for hidden policemen.
The day I visited Koinonia was the day Benjamin Moloise was lynched
by the government of South Africa. In his introduction to his 'Cotton
Patch Version of Paul's Epistles,' Clarence Jordan explained his translation
of the word 'crucifixion:'
We have... emptied the term 'crucifixion' of its original
content of terrific emotion, of violence, of indignity and
stigma, of defeat. I have translated it as 'lynching,' well
aware that this is not technically correct. Jesus was of-
ficially tried and legally condemned, elements generally
lacking in a lynching. But having observed the operation
of Southern 'justice,' and at times having been its victim, I
can testify that more people have been lynches by 'judicial
action' than by unofficial ropes.
The day I visited Koinonia, unable to think of peace in South Africa, I
was equally unable to imagine smoke from burning crosses hanging like the
stench of death over the place where I sat, rather than the sweet smell of
fruitcake. As we sat talking in this now peaceful haven, the uncertainty,
danger and fears of Koinonia' s early years were difficult for me to grasp.
South Africa is not Sumter County, Georgia. The problems of the one
cannot be reduced to the problems of the other. The political and economic
context of 1942 rural Georgia and of contemporary South Africa are
radically different, but the fear, the hatred, the terror, and the Christian call
in both places are the same. The lesson of Koinonia is not simple, for it is
neither fatalism, nor private nonpolitical piety, nor violence in the name of
Christ. The message of Koinonia, needed especially when both official and
unofficial violence is on the rise, is that Christians are called to allow the
grace of God to flow through themselves and their actions, to heal human
Many visitors have left Koinonia disappointed when "they discovered
that we were just people," Florence Jordan said. The lesson of Koinonia is
that "just people," acting in love, can rechannel the great currents of social
and political injustice. "Now these three things endure: faith, hope, and
love; but the greatest of all is love. Seek diligently for love," is how
Clarence Jordan translated I Corinthians 13:13-14:1. It is this love which
makes Christians the salt of the earth. If we lose our savor, how then can
we flavor the world?
Standing at Graduation
of hopes, dreams
goals set firmly
ready to face
Time passed slowly
my heart breaks
pain turns to numbness-
death of a dream...
Photo by Marius Ruja
People of the world, "Wake Up!
From your hallucinating dream. "
And look around you,
For you're not blind
And listen to the chanting
Of the partisans:
"I'm the soldier of freedom,
In the army of men.
We are the chosen...
We are the partisans.
The cause, it is noble,
And the cause, it is just.
We are ready to pay with our lives...
If we must.
For our days are not numbered
And our souls you can't buy.
In Babylon, you are torturing Mama Africa,
But there she won't die."
Silence falls upon South Africa
With a feeling of black death.
Gutters overflow with people
Wanting Mandela to awake.
In Pretoria Apartheid is ending
The black smog fills the air.
For believers and achievers
The Revolution will go on and on and on.
From the factories, the white smoke
Brings about an evil smell.
Some of the partisans have been caught
And exterminated in a cell.
Their life is never ending
They ... live not.
They are those who under pressure
Are killing you, From the inside-out.
They have nothing to receive but glory
On this and every day.
They have gone through life, cruelly
Beaten, starved, until their tears turned gray.
In the middle of the night
Scavengers begin to prowl.
Eating the dead, turning Red
Breaking up the concrete wall.
This night's the time for recollection
On this night Botha, pray.
For Ghandi and King were assasinated
But Mandela is alive... "Apartheid is no way.
To all the partisans,
May they live tomorrow
To see Freedom,
"God make this night Holy."
They brought so much hope
To so much sorrow
*silent night has no sunny day.
People of the world, "Wake Up!
From your hallucinating dream."
Please! Look around you
For you're not blind.
Please! Listen with your heart
To the chanting of the partisans:
"For all of us who seek freedom
She knocks on no one's door.
She is alone and she is chained
Behind steel curtains and concrete walls.
And below her are the graves
Of all who died without a name.
And behind there is but sadness
And in front, your black-white face."
Dedicated to: Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela,
Leader of the Afican National Congress(A.N.C),
Who tried to put an end to Apartheid
In South Africa.
Address since 1963: Pollsmor Prison,
Near Capetown, Republis of South Africa.
By Marius Ruja
Bureaucrats tiptoe in on
They sit on the city,
Flatten it and order it
With their heavy haunches,
And then lumber off
Down the road.
By Steve Ealy
Photo by J. Guile
Farouk of Egypt was a kinky king.
He painted his toes, in his ears wore rings.
He dined on beluga, quail eggs and Moet,
Hibernated to Paris and turned into suet.
Bediamonded, moustachioed, corpulently regal,
In Mercedes he cruised, exotically purple.
When he wobbled abroad, his harem all giggled.
Then he died and left them with nothing to wiggle.
By Bob Strozier
The following essays were written in Dr. Roth 's 201 English class. The
assignment: to complete the novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood by
Charles Dickens who died before the novel's completion.
AN ESSAY ON:
The Mystery of Edwin Drood
It was an exceptional day, and the sun had chased away the heavy,
thick fog. Rosa Bud awoke with a small, happy song going through her
mind. She was in love at long last and all was right with the world. No, not
quite. She did not have the right to be so happy when her friends had such
problems weighing them down.
"Poor Neville, poor Helena, and poor, poor Eddy," sighed Rosa.
Something had to be done!
Mr. Crisparkle and Mr. Grewgious were having a conversation about
the mystery of Edwin Drood in the little corner office.
"Our man in Cloisterham has gathered as much information as possi-
ble to confirm our misgivings about our friend, Jasper," said Mr.
Grewgious. "But we are now in need of a catalyst to bring about the proper
"Neville is waning under the heavy clouds of doubt that follow him.
He is quite willing to help us in our plan," replied Mr. Crisparkle. "Is
"Yes, Mr. Datchery, alias Mr. Bazzard, being the playwright he is, has
written a final scene that is worthy of the best of them," answered Mr.
Grewgious. "Only think how long this game might have gone on if Mr.
Datchery had not got Deputy to reveal the ring, but I suppose the informa-
tion from Durdles and the Princess Puffer helped put him on the right
track. It seems almost impossible that Jasper did not see the ring drop as he
and Edwin struggled near the lime-pit after the visit to the tombs that
Deputy being there was a blessing in disguise. Although he could not
help Edwin, finding the ring did just that. He is terribly afraid of Jasper.
He said Jasper tried to choke him once," replied Mr. Crisparkle.
"Rightly so!" answered Mr. Grewgious. "The train will be leaving
shortly, so we must hurry."
The China Shepherdess had left for a visit to her sister's home in Lon-
don. The Crisparkle house was dark when the four men arrived there. As
night fell, a mist of rain began to fall, and the wind chilled the air. The four
were met by two more men, and they paired themselves into sets of two,
leaving until only two remained.
The door of the crypt gave way as the key turned into the lock and the
two men stole quietly down into the tomb. Neville, dressed in the disguise
stood still as Mr. Crisparkle powdered him white.
The two remaining at the house settled down for the wait. Durdles
pulled out his ever-present bundle and started munching a piece of bread
and cheese. Mr. Grewgious cleared his throat and looked around for the
"Yes, there it is," said Mr. Grewgious. "Would you care for some
"I don't mind if I do," replied Durdles. "Just a spot, mind you. Be-
ing the minor canon's house, don't want to be disrespectful."
The two settled by the warm fire, and each drifted into his own
Jasper was the last one out of the cathedral after choir practice. He
pulled his coat close to his chest. It seemed colder than usual, but it
wouldn't matter soon. Jasper took a brief glance around and swiftly began
his nightly walk to the crypts. One would think it was grief that led him on
this morbid ritual, but the two that followed him knew better. As Jasper
turned the key in the door, the light mist began to change into heavy sheets
of rain, and he quickly closed the crypt door behind him. The musty smell
hung in the air, and the light from the lantern hardly penetrated the thick,
pea-soup fog. He was impatient to reach the chamber; the pipe and its
sweetness awaited him. At the door, he chuckled to himself at the separate
chamber with its own door, an indication of Mr. Sapsea's self-importance.
One could expect no less from the final resting place of the worldly mayor
of Cloisterham. He pulled the door open and stopped at the spectacle that
was before him. There was an eerie light in the room and in the middle of
the tomb stood Edwin.
"No, it can't be! You are dead, in the lime-pit, that night..." Stunn-
ed, Jasper put his face into his hands as if to wipe away the sight of Edwin,
who only stood there. A glazed look came over Jasper's face and he babbl-
ed as if replaying the events of that fateful Christmas Eve night.
"I called to you after you left Neville... we went to the tomb... I told
you of Durdles' remarkable find. We waited, but he did not show because
he did not know. I knew. Ha ha ha! I knew! As we retraced the steps, I
stepped behind you and slid the scarf off my neck. When we reached the
lime-pit, I thought to play the Thuggee (I read about them once, very
methodical murderers) and strangle you, but the lime-pit was there,
quicker... a slight cry and a small struggle, then it was all over — the cry only
enhanced Durdles' ghost stories."
Mr. Crisparkle stepped out of the fog to grab Jasper, but he had
already started running up the stairs and out the door. Neville pulled off
the disguise, and followed, but Jasper ran like a man demented. Outside
the graveyard awaited Mr. Datchery and Mr. Tartar. Jasper caught them
off guard with a blood-curling scream and rapidly ran past them. Onward
to the light house he ran. Up, up, up the circular stairs, into the lantern
room, and out the door Jasper went. His breath was ragged and his mind as
foggy as the night.
"A trick, it's a trick!"
He turned to face the beach, and vaguely he thought he saw the figure
of a woman.
"Rosa, Rosa, my darling, I'm coming."
Mr. Tartar reached for Jasper, but Jasper fought him wildly and climb-
ed out on the rail. In a maze of brilliant colors, lured on by dancing girls
with huge feathers, Jasper leaped to his death.
Time clouds the memories and dulls the pain. Several months have
passed since Jasper died. A bright day has dawned in Cloisterham. The
bells of the cathedral peal a joyful sound as the bride and groom run out the
door to the awaiting carriage. Showers of rice lightly rain down on the
handsome couple as Mr. Tartar leans down and gently kisses his radiant
bride, Rosa. Miss Twinkleton sniffs a noisy farewell to Rosa. Mr.
Crisparkle smiles and turns to the twins.
"I wish you well, Neville and Helena. I cannot quite believe your good
fortune. Your father was actually of royal Oriental blood, and you never
knew. Is your grandfather's ambassador leaving immediately?"
With a wishful glance towards Rosa, Neville replies, "Yes, I am afraid
so." He turns to Mr. Crisparkle, "How can we ever repay your great kind-
ness and gentle guidance?"
"Not at all, my son. You have proved your worth beyond all doubts.
Take care and write to me," says Mr. Crisparkle.
Brother and sister walk to the royal carriage and turn to bid a final
farewell. As the sun sets on the sleepy, little, tranquil cathedral town, Mr.
Crisparkle walks slowly to his house whistling a happy tune.
TO TRAP A RAT
After dark Jasper departed for Durdle's place. He hurried as best he
could to get there, making sure no one, especially the tiny Deputy, saw him
along the way.
"Ho, hum Mr. Jarsper, what brings you here?" Durdles, half as ston-
ed as his artistic works, was standing by the gate firmly holding his dinner
bundle in his hands.
"Durdles, my good man, are you going somewhere or retiring for the
evening?" Jasper asked, avoiding Durdle's question.
"No sir, Mr. Jarsper, I tain't headin' no whar's. De nights got'ta
strange air about it and I's gonna stay inside. You'd better stay's inside too,
Jasper, noticing Durdles' present state, helped the stone-mason inside
his home. Once it was apparent Durdles was fast asleep, Jasper took the
keys and headed towards the crypt.
As he stepped outside a huge stone came crashing down before his eyes.
Knowing what lie in front of him, Jasper waited for the next artillery shot
to be fired before proceeding. The small, toothless urchin did not throw
another stone, however. Instead Deputy backed away, reaching a safe
distance, and commenced in chanting one of his ridiculous songs:
1 * Widdy-widdy-wee,
Cat catch flea
Cat gon'na die!"
I's a seen what'cha did, Mr. Jasper, I's a seen it!"
Deputy ran as swiftly as a jackrabbit and disappeared into the night.
Jasper, not paying any attention to the monstrous child, proceeded
once again towards the crypt. As he was about to enter the tomb, he heard
a familiar man's voice. He looked around to see who was there and noticed
a figure, a man's figure, walking around Durdle's house. Thinking it must
be Durdles searching for his missing keys, Jasper quickly went inside and
shut the door behind him.
Mr. Tartar had visited many different lands before his seafaring days
had ended. He knew from experience the various customs and rituals each
one employed yet none were as distinctive as the Thuggee ritual of India.
Mr. Grewgious and Mr. Tartar departed for Cloisterham. They did
not tell anyone of their destination or when they would return. Rosa was
suspicious. Mr. Grewgious' sudden departure was unusual, but there was
nothing for her to do except wait. That she did.
Grewgious and Tartar arrived at Mr. Crisparkle's promptly at 11:00
"Has Jasper left the place yet?" inquired Mr. Tartar.
The three men quickly left the Minor Canon's and headed towards the
Nun's house. They suspected Jasper might try to find Rosa and naturally
would inquire at the House. As they were walking briskly towards the
school, Mr. Datchery stopped them.
"Gentlemen, where are you going in such a rush?"
"We are searching for Mr. Jasper. Have you seen him anywhere?"
Grewgious asked as if he knew all along Jasper's hiding place.
"Yes, I have," Datchery replied. "I saw him walking towards
Durdle's house earlier this evening."
"That's it!" exclaimed Tartar. "The crypt. He's got to be using the
As swift as lightning the four men ran to Durdle's house. Once they
had arrived, Tartar and Datchery headed for the tomb while the other two
men stayed behind. Upon reaching the crypt, they found the door partly
open and proceeded to go inside.
Jasper was sitting on the cold, concrete floor making small circular
gestures with his hands and mumbling a strange, distinctively foreign chant.
He appeared to be unaware of the men's existence. Slowly Jasper appeared
to be coming out of his trance. Mr. Tartar, aware of the ritual's effects on
its followers, motioned for Mr. Datchery to stay back. Tartar cautiously
approached Jasper. The ex-navy man seized him by the hair, shaking him
as one would a dusty linen towel. Jasper, coming to his senses, now realized
he was not alone.
"How did you find me?" Jasper asked somewhat shocked. Then,
looking into the musty darkness, Jasper suddenly lost his senses and began
screaming Edwin's name. "I hate you!! I hate you!! You have no right
coming back to me. I'll kill you again if I must."
It was at this instant Mr. Grewgious and the Minor Canon charged into
the tomb and seized Jasper. Still cursing Edwin, and vowing revenge
against the four men, John Jasper was carried away — never to be seen in
Life was blooming again for Rosa. She remained in London knowing
she could never return to Cloisterham, or the Nun's House again. Her lov-
ed ones were here, in London, and she was going to remain here with them.
Miss Twinkleton had gone back to the Nun's House after a duel with
the Billickin. Miss Twinkleton, being the instructor that she is, tried to train
the noticeably untutored landlady. The "Ruler of the House" instructed
Miss Twinkleton what to do with her "Anglish."
The twins decided to live in London too since Rosa was so dear to the
two of them. Neville, now proven innocent, still affectionately admired the
little flower from afar. He did not, after much consideration, feel it fitting
to court her due to Rosa's bonded friendship with Helena.
Tartar, knowing he could never love anyone as much or more than he
presently loved Rosa, proposed to her on a beautiful, golden Sunday. The
two were united in marriage exactly two weeks later.
Mr. Grewgious and Bazzard sat sipping hot tea by the fire. They both
knew there was still an element missing in the mystery of the murder of Ed-
win Drood — the ring. Where it was no one knew. Not even Jasper; they
asked him on the way to the asylum. He said he did not know the ring's
Somewhere in the deep, murky sea lies a rose; a flower not belonging in
this wasteland. For like its possessor, the jewel will never be seen again.
Yet the warmth and love transformed through its living beauty will live
Oh, where are you,
Thoughts and hopes of things
That would be?
A child's admirations change as the
Tides of the sea.
What is seen now in that dusty mirror of
Where has the child gone,
That looked to the pages of tomorrow
Rather than in his books of the day?
Cities and armies of a unique world are
Lost and forgotten;
Only a few relics remain in the mind of their
No searchers can find the civilizations
That were not.
Where has the olympian gone?
Is he with the justice and
The driver of speed?
Why does the singer no longer perform his
Concerts before the eager crowds?
Why have the gladiators put away their
Armor and spears?
The child has new worlds
He grew lonely with his
The battles now
He cannot control, nor can
He raise a soldier from the dead.
His castles on the beach have long since
The wars now have
And the child has cried when
Blood has been made to bleed.
Allies of the changing times have gone
Their ways; they can no longer
Come out to play.
The child cannot go back to what was,
But must go
To what will be.
Faces are seen,
But names not recalled.
They were someone
In a time passed by.
Time dares not stop for those who
Live; it only stops for those who
By Jeffery Smith
QUESTIONS FORCED UPON
ME BY MYSELF
What becomes of passion unused?
Does it lose its fire, and burn to an ash?
Or does it sleep throughout a lifetime of nights
Untouched, unkissed, unspoken...
Is a passion unused, indeed passion at all?
Or is it a tear
That threatens to expose one's emptiness, so as to
Beg for one less night alone?
What becomes of unused passion?
Photo by J. Guile
CAN YOU KEEP IT?
For four years now you've held a love for him.
The polished smile and make-up wear so thin.
Questions all abound; what do you really feel?
Your thoughts are sound; is he just what you need?
Can you keep it?
Your fairy tale began upon the sand:
A little spark caught on and burned your hand.
Paperback romance — it led to other things —
You tried to dance to tunes you could not sing.
The two of you assumed just one address:
More time, less room, more touch, less talk — love less.
But you did not mind, you figured, "A couple of days."
Your singer choked and left you out of phrase.
Can you keep it?
And now the time has come to make up your mind:
Will you begin to see or will you stay blind?
You tell him that you won't put up with the strain,
So you get out before you take the blame.
Can you keep it?
Peter H. Clonts
SUN AND RAIN
Farewell time that has passed.
Paths have been trodden,
Rivers have flowed,
A mother has screamed with the
painful joy of birth.
Mourners have cried for themselves
as they have buried the young and old.
The clock strikes twelve to the time that is,
that is now the time that was.
A new time commences.
What joys and tears will now be brought?
The sun shall shine as the rains shall fall.
The Earth spins on its axis.
It will stop.
The seasons will come
Thoughts will be gained
New life is promised but only with the
sun and rain.
By Jeffery Smith
TO HER KILLJOY PROFESSOR
Had I but world enough, and time
This essay, Sir, would be no crime
I would sit down and think which way
To write, and pass this class okay.
And by the English's Channel's side
Shoulds't insights find, I by the tide
Of slumber would abstain. I would
Instead of ink, use drops of blood.
And you should, if you please, confuse
'Til in this course I've paid my dues.
My essay collection should grow
From the quagmire, sans undue sorrow.
An hundred years should go to raze
My professor, with this metaphrase.
Two hundred to attempt such jest
And thirty thousand to each test.
In hopes one day you will impart
That yes, you really have a heart.
For once your essays would abate
Give me time, you've made me celibate.
But at my desk I always fear
Bedtime's a thing of yesteryear
I should be eating humble pie
But somehow I'm not afraid to die.
This pundit, then, shan't be around
For professors to perplex, confound;
No sad farewell, for at last I
Would be free of such futility.
And my best theses turn to dust
My favorite pen resign to rust.
The grave's a blank and writless place
Once there, no more must I erase.
Now therefore while this deadly view
Rests on my quill, I'll bid adieu
And while thy raging soul transpires
By now, I'm sure, with unchecked ires,
Please let me flee now while I may
Quick, to a church, I need to pray.
I may not live beyond this hour,
Your wrath, I care not to feel its power.
Let me roll this rhetoric, and all
My Cliff notes up into one ball.
Such prose as this needn't be so rife
Especially if it costs one's life.
In this match of wits, I may have won
But now, you'll make me wish I'd none.
By S. A. Hooks
To look within ourselves where answers lie,
flung far beneath the realm of easy grasp
made stronger by the wish to let them die
yet knowing life requires such dreadful tasks-
A searing pain, she feels it as before.
It grips the thought and holds it like a vise.
It lurches up then plunges down for more,
and rising brings again the unchecked cries.
She called it forth, this monster from her soul,
the choice was hers: to battle or to run.
Oh, what a price to pay for being bold!
(She chides herself for thinking she had won).
But somewhere in the calling forth, foretold
a journey started-healing had begun.
By Claudia Turner Welch
It is Christmas night. The presents have been unwrapped and exclaim-
ed over, the parties are finished, and the excitement that has been building
over the past few weeks has at last climaxed and is beginning to die down.
And I am left alone, as so often in the past, stranded here on a solitary pro-
montory amidst a sea of memories.
I was a sensitive child - perhaps more so in memory than in fact, but
sensitive nevertheless. But rather than being an asset to me, this sensitivity
which seems so admirable a trait in retrospect was in reality a great burden
on me. All too often, my young mind was filled with confusion as I, an un-
willing spectator, was drawn into the midst of human dramas far beyond
either my understanding or my interest. One of these unsought and painful
involvements came to me in the fall of my thirteenth year, the year that
marked a split from childhood deep and traumatic as an earthquake's fault.
The school year began in the usual way for a shy, overweight boy of
thirteen. As was customary, the first day of school was spent in renewing
old friendships and making new ones; for some of us, however, it meant en-
during a day of humiliating loneliness. I was relieved when the sixth and
last period of the day finally arrived. For one thing, this meant that soon I
could return home, to my room and my books. But also, I was excited
about the class I had signed up for sixth hour - I was taking Physical
Science and, because I was interested in chemistry and in performing
"scientific experiments," I planned to enjoy myself, in spite of the fact that
I was at school. As I made my way to Room 114, my spirits lifted for the
first time that day.
I stepped into the classroom and, without looking up, made my way to
the desk in the back corner next to the window. This was my customary seat
-- in it I felt as unobtrusive as a 5'4", 175 lb. teenager can feel. It made me
less nervous to be far away from the teacher and out of the line of vision of
the other students, who seemed to me to be tall and slim and beautiful and
always eager to laugh at a misfit.
I placed my books beneath the desk and then took the opportunity to
quietly scan my surroundings to see who had taken the seats near me. To
my delight, I found that the nearest person to me was three desks away, in
front. No one else had taken a seat on the back row; it was a small class. So
I felt almost alone, especially if I turned sideways in my desk to look out the
window at the sky. I was pleased; things were going well so far.
Examining the room, I saw that it was like public school classrooms
must be all over the world - a little run down, with a rusty, clanking
radiator running the length of one of the plain block walls, which were
painted with olive-drab army-surplus paint. Curtainless windows emitted
colorless sunlight that failed to fully illuminate the shadowy corners in
which the ghosts of dunces sat and waited. In addition, this room contained
paraphenalia peculiar to science classrooms: black counters along one wall,
with narrow, deep sinks every few feet, and glass cabinets above filled with
an odd assortment of scientific-looking equipment. There was also a large
walk-in closet in the back, not far from where I sat, probably for the storage
of even more equipment.
Some time passed, and the classroom became nearly full of laughing
students, none of whom were bold enough to sit near me. Then the bell
rang signalling the beginning of class; the noise level dropped considerably,
but remained at a steady hum. Several more minutes passed, in which there
was no sign of a teacher. I began to grow restless, and turned in my desk to
look out of the grimy window beside me. Just then, my attention was
focused on the slowly opening door of the closet near me. As it gradually
creaked open, every eye in the room came to be trained on it in delicious
half-frightened anticipation. Finally it swung open enough for us to see
what was apparently our teacher standing in the dim doorway. To say that I
was shocked would be an understatement; my heart sank at the sight of
With his wild, thinning hair, huge bobbing Adam's-apple, black horn-
rimmed spectacles with one leg held in place with electrical tape, and his
stick-like body, he was a living caricature of a mad scientist. He was dress-
ed all in black: baggy black trousers, a black turtleneck sweater (in spite of
the ninety-plus temperature outside) from which his scrawny neck protrud-
ed obscenely, and a shapeless black jacket, shiny with age and grease. He
trembled slightly as he surveyed the class, causing an unbelievably long
finger of ash to fall from the cigarette which hung loosely from his long,
Of course, my fellow students could not restrain themselves from a
purely justifiable giggle or two. I was torn between pity, loathing, and
gratitude that there existed in the world a creature even more ridiculous
than myself. I think it was at that very moment that my life became inex-
tricably tangled in the spell of that strange little man.
With droll dignity, he held up a thin hand for silence. Reluctantly, the
classroom quieted, and with what I soon came to recognize as a
characteristic gesture, our teacher introduced himself.
Placing one foot atop the radiator and running a hand through the thin
strands of hair on top of his head, he said in a strained, reedy voice: "I am
Professor Conrad. You may call me the Doctor."
Another titter ran through the classroom at his austere delivery of such
apparently serious information, rendering it ridiculous. But a look of stern
disapproval quickly laid the merrymaking to rest.
I am sure that you find me extremely comical; nevertheless, I will ex-
pect a modicum of courtesy and respect be extended me, in the form of at-
tention to my speech and obedience to my classroom rules. All I ask of you
is that you appear in class with reasonable regularity, and that you keep
relatively quiet so that I can rest. In return for your cooperation in these
matters, I will allow you virtually free reign; there will be no homework
assignments, and only such tests and seatwork as are necessary to maintain
the illusion of a studious environment. I trust that this arrangement will be
agreeable to all concerned?" He cast a doleful eye around the classroom,
studying each face in turn. As he received no reply other than a general
nodding of heads and murmur of surprised assent, he slowly strode to the
desk placed at an angle in one corner of the room, took his seat, and balanc-
ed his chin upon his interlaced fingers. As he passed close by my desk, I
caught an unpleasant whiff of him, the sour smell of unwashed age mingled
with the sharper odors of tobacco and gin.
For a long time, no one said a word. The other kids just sat looking at
one another stupidly. But gradually, teenage nature prevailed, and a
steady, almost unnoticeable hum of speech began to rise from the groups of
three or four clustered about the classroom. I, of course, sat alone, mutely
puzzling over this strange new thing which had entered my life and impa-
tiently awaiting the end of the hour. Finally, the bell rang its signal for the
end of school, and the students all charged from their seats and out the
door. I was the last one out. The Doctor's bleared voice stopped me at the
" Please close the door on your way out, young man," he said wearily.
I complied, then gratefully took my leave and rushed to the schoolbus, feel-
ing happier and lighter than I had all day in spite of my encounter with the
Thus began my relationship with the Doctor; an unusual beginning for
an unusual story. (Or perhaps it only seems strange in retrospect.) I must
confess that, although I was as glad as any other student in that class to be
exempt from the usual tiresome burden of work associated with school, I
was a little disappointed to find that he really intended to teach us nothing
at all about chemistry. He simply sat at his desk each day for an hour, after
making his usual appearance from within the storage closet, and
disinterestedly watched us perform the rites and rituals of puberty. Most of
the students ignored the freedom he sarcastically gave us to use the school
equipment for our own experiments, but I braved a bitter ridicule by enter-
taining myself with experiments from my science textbook.
I think it was my insistence not to be what he expected me to be that
first drew the Doctor's attention to me. After a few weeks of maintaining
his stony and morose silence while watching me, he began to greet me each
day, first calling me only "young man," later asking my name and making
an effort to use it. This in itself was a peculiar honor, since he seldom if
ever addressed anyone by name.
He began gradually to change his habitual attitude toward me, spen-
ding time assisting me with experiments and giving me private lectures in my
out-of-the-way corner of the classroom. "Peter, look at this," he would
say, holding up a beaker of pale greenish liquid. "Do you realize that if you
evaporated this solution, you'd have a residue of copper ore?" he'd ask,
with the nearest thing to enthusiasm I ever saw lighting his eyes. For the
most part, the others left us alone, although occasionally some of the more
studious (or curious) would surreptiously watch us from a distance. But
generally, the Doctor and I were alone, drawn together ostensibly by our
similar interest in chemistry, but really by our almost identically low esteem
in the eyes of others.
In this time I spent with him, I grew even more aware of the eccen-
tricities of the Doctor. I considered his private tutelage a mixed blessing; I
was glad to learn from him and flattered by the attention, but somewhat
embarrassed to be chosen as his friend. I began to draw even more jeers
from my fellow-students, as if my association with this known weirdo only
confirmed my own eccentricities. Still, I rather liked the Doctor in spite of
(or because of) his idiosyncrasies and the troubles they caused me. There
were many mysteries about him that troubled me; I could see good qualities
in the man even though these were almost obscured by his numerous faults.
For one thing, he obviously had a serious drinking problem; he frequently
staggered to class. Then, too, his classroom habits were, to say the least,
unusual. It struck me as odd that I had never heard anything about Dr.
Conrad before. Even my own brother had taken his class, and had sug-
gested that I take it also, without once revealing what I could expect. Cer-
tainly the school administration was unaware of how he ran his classroom;
otherwise, I am sure they would have put a stop to it. There seemed to be a
carefully guarded secret, kept by a network of student spies who warned the
Doctor if the principal or any of his minions were in the area. Upon receiv-
ing such a warning, the Doctor would swiftly remove a stack of dummy
worksheets from his drawer, pass them around, and instruct us to look
busy. The principal would come in, scrutinize us all narrowly, then speak a
few words to the Doctor about an upcoming faculty meeting or some other
school business. Then he would leave, the Doctor would take up the
papers, and it would be back to business as usual.
The principal, of course, was not without suspicion concerning the
Doctor. But he could never seem to catch him doing anything irregular. At
any rate, the school was proud to have such an obviously well-educated and
erudite individual on the staff — it is not often that rural junior high schools
are able to hire Ph.D.'s at such a low salary. But Dr. Conrad seemed to
have little need of material wealth. Most of his money apparently went into
purchasing the little bottles he kept stored behind the chemicals in the glass
cabinet above his desk.
Eccentricity breeds rumor, and so rumors abounded among the
students and other faculty members. Many a lunch period was spent in the
cafeteria discussing his many possible antecedents over cartons of chocolate
milk. Some speculated that he was a famous nuclear physicist on the run
from the CIA because he "knew too much." Others went so far as to say he
had sold his secrets to the Russians and was thus a traitor to our flag. There
is no way to tell how much of these stories was based on fact, but certainly
he behaved as if he had some secret, although probably of a much more
mundane nature. Most of the rumors circulated were more obvious, center-
ing on his drinking and his disregard for conventional dress and behavior.
All these things contributed to my conception of him as bizarre and
somehow very special, and increased my equal compulsions of affection
and anxiety toward him.
As my affection for the Doctor increased to eclipse my distaste, my ac-
ceptance of him grew. I came to see him as the deeply troubled individual
he was, rather than as a mere comic curiousity. It may seem strange that at
thirteen I was able to recognize so deep and adult an emotion as despair, but
even at that young age I was well acquainted with its many faces. And his
drinking, a source of amusement for the other students, touched me par-
ticularly, as it was no stranger to me. My own father was an alcoholic, tem-
porarily dry at the time, and so the Doctor's symptoms and behavior were
almost as familiar to me as my father's.
So my sense of kinship with the Doctor was intensified as the weeks
wore on. Still, to all appearances, our relationship was nothing more than
that of teacher and student. At the time, I felt no real bonds with him other
than human sympathy and a child-like, and therefore passing, affection. It
is only in looking at my life since that I realize the profound influence, for
good or ill, that he has had in my life. But this influence is related to later
events, and must be explained more fully.
Being in almost daily contact with the Doctor, it was impossible for me
to ignore his steady deterioration. In September, he had been a slightly
seedy drinker; by November, he had become, to my eyes, a disgusting
drunk. His slightly unkempt appearance had grown gradually wor , until
finally he was so dirty and smelly that he could not fail to attract attention.
His drinking at school grew more frequent, open, and heavy, and very often
he would not appear in class at all.
It was on one such day, when the Doctor failed to show up for class,
that I made an interesting discovery in the storage closet. I was searching
for a bottle of zinc chips that I knew was kept in the room, and decided to
risk looking in the storage closet even though I knew it had been declared
off-limits. Pushing open the heavy fire-proof door, I entered the dim, dusty
room and groped about for the wall-switch opposite the door. Upon fin-
ding it, I flicked on the light to reveal, to my surprise, that the storeroom
was set up as a living quarters of sorts. Next to the sink was a razor, a
toothbrush in a glass, and a hairbrush. Shapeless black clothes slumped on
a straight-backed chair. And upon a cot pushed against the far wall, the
Doctor lay in the deep, stuporous sleep of drunkenness. I was overwhelmed
by repulsion and anger; I turned and fled the room, managing to maintain
enough presence of mind to close the door firmly behind me. I looked fear-
fully around me to see if the other students had noticed my hasty retreat
from the storage closet, and was gratified to see that, as usual, they had
paid no attention to me.
I took my seat, dazed and astonished, and began to ponder what I had
seen. Eventually I came to the uneasy conclusion that the Doctor was either
living in that closet, or had set up a sort of "lounge" for himself. Judging
from the appearance of the room, the former seemed the more likely case.
Instinct directed me to continue on the same terms as before with the Doc-
tor, and to mention what I had seen neither to him nor to anyone else. Un-
comfortable with this resolve, but determined to carry it out, I strove to put
the entire episode out of my mind.
In the next few weeks, an even swifter decay seemed evident in the Doc-
tor. His demeanor changed rapidly from a reticent friendliness to an almost
hostile sharpness. Although I regretted the loss of our former closeness, I
recognized from subtle signals that his behavior was no reflection of a per-
sonal dislike; he was merely suffering from the effects of his more prolong-
ed spells of drunkenness and depression. I, a mere child, was totally une-
quipped to deal with the trauma I could see my friend was going through; in
all honesty, I was not really very concerned about him. At thirteen, there
are many things more important to us than the health and happiness of
Nevertheless, my daily contacts with him, as they grew uglier and more
trying, I came to regard as my duty, something I was compelled to get
through as a matter of principle. Undoubtedly, there was some deep-seated
transference of affection and responsibility from my alcoholic father to this
frail and sickly old man that forced me into a position of such devotion, so
natural to me as to go almost completely unnoticed.
The next few weeks were an extended countdown to the Christmas holi-
day. Like all kids, I looked forward to the time away from school, and
eagerly anticipated the gifts I would receive, taking for granted the ef-
fortless joy of the season. As the final day of classes neared, I found myself
drifting further and further away from the Doctor, who seemed to be sink-
ing to some final depth of seediness and morbidity. His previous attitude of
trust and companionship toward me had now been wholly replaced by the
suspicious hostility of the paranoid drunk. I was hurt, but the general good
feeling of the holiday season served to lessen the wound considerably, and
on the last day of class I approached his desk to wish him a happy
"Yes, Peter, what do you want this time?" he snapped at me, glaring
from red, watery eyes at my suddenly cold and sweaty form.
"I... I just wanted to say Merry Christmas, and goodbye 'til next
year," I replied shakily, embarrased.
"Yes, well, that's all very nice, but I haven't time for any of that sen-
timental clap-trap." He sprang with unexpected energy from his chair and
strode across the empty classroom to his closet, but not before I saw the
look of remorse on his haggard face.
Christmas was cool and bright and full of the standard cheer and good
will. I enjoyed my best Christmas in years, with my father sober and my
mother more relaxed than I ever remembered seeing her. But the holiday
was not without troubling thoughts of the Doctor.
As was traditional in my family, my brother and I each received one
large, expensive gift and a few little things on the side. My brother got a
stereo and some albums; I got a terrific chemistry set, complete with a
I was thrilled with my gift, of course, but my happiness was marred by
thoughts of the Doctor. I was sorry that our parting had been so bitter, and
wondered uneasily how he was spending his Christmas. An ugly vision of
his squalid closet dwelling filled my mind. Preoccupied with my imagin-
ings, I was unable to fully enjoy my delicious Christmas dinner, until I came
to a resolution. I decided to pack a basket of food and take it to the Doctor
With my new resolve firmly in mind, I finished my dinner with renewed
appetite, then excused myself. Impatiently, I waited for the rest of the
family to clear out of the kitchen, then rushed in to select a few things for
First of all, I filled a jar with some of Mom's delicious turkey dressing
and packed some sliced turkey in a plastic bag. Then, I filled another jar
with green beans, grown in our garden the previous summer and lovingly
preserved. I cut a thick slab of fruit cake (sent to us by my great-aunt
Sarah) and a wedge of pumpkin pie (which I didn't like in the first place).
Finally, I poured the rest of the egg-nog into my thermos bottle. All these
things I carefully packed in my green canvas knapsack, along with two
paper plates, cups, and plastic dinnerware. I hesitated a moment, then add-
ed the bottle of brandy given to us by an unknowing neighbor — Mom had
wanted to throw it away, so I didn't think she'd miss it.
When everything was packed and ready, I ran upstairs to tell my
brother where I was going. Without revealing the Doctor's secret, I simply
explained that I was going to ride over to the school on my bike and meet
some friends to discuss our Christmases together. If he found anything
unusual in my story, he didn't let on, but only nodded in time to the music
blaring out of his new stereo. As I left, I heard my father yell out at him:
"Turn that blasted thing down a little, can't you, Davey?" I felt safe as I
mounted my bike, my knapsack bulging with goodies and my new chemistry
set snuggly tucked into the wire basket over the back wheel.
As I slowly pedaled my bike toward school, I found myself anxious to
see the Doctor, but half-fearful of his reaction. Then I began to speculate
that he wouldn't even be there. Surely the man had a family of his own, I
thought to myself. I realized then that I very much wanted to see him that
night, and to show him my new prized possession. I knew he'd be pleased.
I recognize now that I was then full to the bursting point of misplaced
pride in my own good samaritanism. I know it was selfish of me to think
that way, but I couldn't help wanting to be the Doctor's sole friend and
comforter in his misery.
As I drew nearer the school, my heart grew lighter and I began to pedal
faster, humming snatches of Christmas carols under my breath. In every
house along the street, brightly colored lights winked in the windows.
Although there was no snow, the air was crisply, cleanly cold, and in the
night sky the stars displayed their own pale, twinkling decorations.
At last I arrived at school. It looked odd in the moonlight; black
shadows lurked beside every ordinary thing, investing the usually com-
monplace scene with unnatural terrors. I had never seen the school so ab-
solutely devoid of life before. As I crept along the silent, ghostly corridors,
I felt the unreasoning cold hand of fear gripping mine, urging me to turn
back; I almost did. But something persuaded me to go on even though my
heart was pounding, and finally I arrived at the door of Room 114.
A sudden wild thought came to me as if a certainty: the door would be
locked. I hastily gripped the icy metal doorknob, turned it, and pushed. I
was surprised when it opened easily. I stumbled inside the eerily-lit
classroom and started for the wall-switch. Just before switching on the
lights, I realized that they would be seen, and I might possibly be discovered
prowling around the school on Christmas night. So, fearful of having to ex-
plain my actions (even to myself), I crept along in semi-darkness toward the
closet door, listening eagerly for any sounds from within. When I reached
the door, I stood a moment with a hand on the knob, wondering if even
now I shouldn't just turn around and go back home. I looked at the
luminous dial of my Timex: 8:05. Shaking off my nerves, I turned the
doorknob hard and pushed against the heavy door with my shoulder. This
time, it was locked. Impatient, unwilling to knock but having come too far
to turn back, I rattled the knob softly, trying in vain to get the door to open.
Then, suddenly feeling the weight of my picnic-Christmas dinner on my
back, I did knock, and loudly.
Excitement gripped me; there I was, standing in the middle of the
deserted school on Christmas night, knocking like a fiend on the door of my
mad-scientist teacher. Growing even more eager and anxious, I began to
call his name: "Doctor! Doctor Conrad, it's me, Peter. Please let me in!"
Finally, I heard the lock click on the inside of the door. Then the heavy
metal door began to swing open, incredibly slowly, to reveal the spectral im-
age of the Doctor, looking half-wild with drin* and loneliness, I fancied.
Clutching my new chemistry set against my jacket with one arm and
holding out the heavy canvas knapsack with the other, I grinned hugely and
blurted, "Merry Christmas!"
I stood facing him expectantly. After a long silence, during which my
grin seemed to crack and fall from my face, he finally spoke. "O, for
Christ's sake, what the hell are you doing here?" he cried out, running a
bony hand through his disheveled hair. "Am I never to be rid of you? God!
It's like some kind of nightmare; everywhere I turn, I see these damned
weirdo kids hanging onto me like parasites! What is it you want from me,
anyway? What is it you want me to do?" Not waiting for an answer, he
began again. "I'm not what you think I am, kid. Why don't you just get
the hell out of here and leave me alone, you damned little twerp. Go on, get
out!" And reaching out his long, thin arms, he gave me a rough shove, sen-
ding me crashing backwards, the full knapsack and precious chemistry set
Stunned and striken, I sat on the floor for a long moment, looking up
at him through my tears. Seeing no remorse, but only a cruel, hard, scowl-
ing stare, I got shakily to my feet and gathered up my scattered belongings,
biting back the sobs that threatened to break from m^ mouth. Picking up
the chemistry set box, I heard the unmistakable clank of broken glass and,
unable to hold it back any longer, I let out a short but expressive wail of
grief and hurt. The Doctor made a disgusted grunting noise, then retreated
into his room, slamming the heavy door behind him decisively.
I was not physically hurt, but I found it very difficult to get home that
night. When I finally got back, it was after ten o'clock, and my mom and
dad were furious. Apparently my undependable brother had failed to tell
them where I was going, because they had been worried when they found I
wasn't at home. Seeing the crushed box under my arm and the gravy-
soaked knapsack on my back, they were even more furious, demanding to
know where I'd been, what had happened. Of course, I lied. I couldn't
even admit to myself that my beloved Doctor Conrad had so humiliated me,
smashing my new chemistry set in the process. So, I told them that I'd been
taking my present and some dinner leftovers to meet some friends, and that
on the way home I'd had a spill on my bike. They were still plenty mad that
the expensive gift had been ruined, and when they found the bottle of bran-
dy, remarkably still intact, inside my knapsack, I received the only serious
spanking of my life. But I hardly even felt it; my mind was on other things.
As I sat in my room some time later, trying to forget what had happen-
ed, I heard a group of carolers pause beneath my window, singing a cracked
version of "Silent Night." Only with great difficulty did I refrain from
screaming at them from my window to go away; instead, I merely lay on my
bed and cried, sure that if I never left my room again it would be best for all
I was sufficiently calm to feel sheepish as I returned to school in
January. I dreaded intensely having to face Doctor Conrad again; the best I
could hope for was that he would have forgotten the entire episode. As I sat
in my customary seat in the left rear corner, I watched the closet door from
the corner of my eye, fearing the moment when it would open. But to my
surprise, it never did; instead, the principal walked into the room, a grim
but uncertain look on his face, holding up a hand for silence.
He gripped the lapels of his jacket and rocked back on his heels,
surveying our puzzled faces equably . I glared at him ferociously, trying to
penetrate his air of simpering self-importance to discover his reason for be-
ing before me. After a long silence, he cleared his throat and finally spoke.
"Students, I have an unhappy announcement to make. Doctor Conrad
will not be returning to this class. I'm afraid he's.... dead...."
By the time I got home that afternoon, my shock had worn off, leaving
cold fury in its place. In fury I rushed up to my room, heedless of the words
flung at me by my still-angry mother; bitterly, I swept the fragments of my
chemistry set, which lay in various stages of amatuerish repair on my desk,
to the floor; then, more calmly, I transferred the shattered pieces to my
wastebasket. Flinging myself to my bed, I refused to cry; I simply lay there,
teeth and fists clenched in rage and frustration. I no longer cared if my
parents were angry with me, and I no longer wanted that chemistry set.
Doctor Conrad had no power over me, no real influence in my life.
Once again, my loneliness and insecurities have inflicted on me a distorted
view of the past. His only value is assigned in my own morbid and restless
rememberings. Nothing in him or his sad, ignoble end could possibly have
....Except that four years later, when my father began drinking again, I
found that I couldn't deal with it and left home, never to speak to the old
man again. And that, although I was still intensely interested in the sciences
at college, I instead took courses in the humanities and now work as a
private psychologist. And that, even now, when things are bad I am inclin-
ed to turn away from those I love and to a bottle for comfort and release.
But no, nothing ever really changes. The events of childhood are
always exaggerated in memory. The wounds heal.
I loved you
- Once -
As you walked so
tall and majestically
- one day -
You loved me
- Once -
As the bud's break forth
from their shells,
feel of life
- only Once -
I loved you
- Once -
As the river,
never to pause
- just once -
You loved me
- Once -
as your love,
I might have
wished you back
- Once -
but the love
you had for me
is like a rock
to the river sand,
- smothered -
hold your head
and walk toward me,
- not Once -
By Mary Howard
FOR THE SANTIAGOS
OF OUR TIME
Despite our bodies' curvature
Our minds stand straight and still endure.
Throughout the years spent on this land
We learn to love; we understand
Each other... links of fastened chain
United we remain.
We live a half-barren loneliness.
We cry, we search for happiness,
For hollow is our inner core —
Our bodies house a missing door.
But flee we do from this strange pain;
Part — strangers we remain.
Dimensions of Life's Plentitude
Take in all virtues — fair and crude.
This is the circle of our lives
That totals happiness and strife.
We live the same; we die the same.
Our souls receive no fame.
To reconcile with this Nothingness
May seem to make us much distress,
But aren't we all old men at sea?
We are, at least we seem to be.
We need not know where life came;
Our souls receive no fame.
What price our Loving? What price the Pain?
While together still our souls lose fame,
The Answers lie in what we see
As long as we live for Humanity...
For when we die, we no longer be.
If you are interested in working on the 1987 Calliope staff, or in sub-
mitting work for consideration in that edition, please contact Dr. Richard
Raymond in the Department of Languages, Literature, and Dramatic Arts,
115 D, Gamble Hall. Calliope welcomes prose, poetry, and nonfiction
work in all fields, as well as photographs and sketches. All pieces submitted
must be the work of students, staff, or faculty members of Armstrong State
College. Work should be submitted by the end of Fall Quarter for best
chance of publication. Please be sure that your name, phone number, and
address accompany each submission.
1 — &i
for James Land Jones
1934 - 1986
cover by Mojo Davis
Armstrong State College
A Unit of the University System of Georgia
Once again, we, the editors of Calliope , must express our
*o those people without whose patient support this edition
Would not have been possible. To Dr. Lorie Roth, to Dr. Robert Strozier, to
Mr. Al Harris, to our faculty advisor, Dr. Richard Raymond, and especially
to all those students and faculty who submitted works for our consideration,
our deepest thanks. Special thanks also go to Steve Van Brackle and the staff
of the Academic Computing Center for their invaluable assistance with the
necassary technical details.
As always, it has been a pleasure working with the quality materials
and cooperative people associated with this magazine. We only regret that
not everything submitted could be printed.
We are grateful for the beneficence of the Lillian and Frank W.
Spencer Foundation for making the award for best Calliope submission
We respectfully dedicate this edition of Calliope to the memory of
our friend and teacher, Dr. James Land Jones.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Jeff Gordon Peeples
SAME - SAME
sketch by Torrence Burgess
My dreams are balloons
Anna Mary Crowe Dewart
ASK AND YOU WILL RECEIVE
RELIGIOUS SYMBOLISM IN FLANNERY
Maria B. Dunn
photo by Angela Fletcher
LOVE OF MY LIFE
IN THE OPEN
photo by Marie Claude Desoubeaux
A TOAST AND A CRUCIFIX
sketch by Mojo Davis
A HOLIDAY PUZZLE
additional sketches by Michael West
Jeff Gordon Peeples
Once I had a friend. But we went to different colleges
after high school, and I knew nothing would be the same.
Now I am alone; a dissected "we."
Isaac Beemer closed his brown spiral-ring journal and placed the cap on
the felt up marker. He ran his hand through his curly black hair and across
his slender, unshaven face in an attempt at motivation. His morning free-
time had passed, and if he didn't hurry, he would not be in his first period
classroom ten minutes early.
"Always be punctual, Isaac," his mother had told him when she
straightened his tie, as if the Greyhound bus fare were less expensive for
immaculate dressers. "And try to find a decent synagogue," she tried to
whisper above the shouts of the boarding passengers. His Catholic father had
heard her anyway, but had merely winked at Isaac, shrugged his shoulders,
and said, "A mother's advice is not to be tampered with." Once at school,
Isaac, the freshman, had conveniently forgotten the last half of the counsel,
but religiously held to the former.
For this reason, he shut his journal even though he wanted to continue
writing. "You will write?" Michael, the object of his current passage, had
asked him with a handshake at the graduation ceremonies.
"Youll get a letter from me every week. I promise."
"I'm not talkin' about letters, man. I mean write. You know, like a
writer writes. You've got to keep up with it You've got it, man."
That was another piece of advice, and in the early morning hours before
first period class he fought to uphold it, for Michael's sake more than
Usually Isaac rode the bus to school, but as he put on his pleated gray
tweed pants and white oxford shirt, the bicycle which now served as a hat and
clothes rack in the living room demanded, in what seemed to be Michael's
voice, an exposure to the October air. As he rode from his small, rain-
washed duplex apartment to the campus, he thought of his parents and of
Michael and of everything he had left behind to attend the cheapest college in
the state. He glanced back only once as if Michael were behind him, racing.
He pedaled harder and harder, burying his face in the pages of the wind. He
felt slight twinges of pain down his skinny thighs and between his jutting
shoulder blades, but he pedaled still harder, hoping to be the first student in
the classroom, the first one to define his territory.
When Isaac turned from the hallway into Room 213 of Connor Hall, he
felt terribly awkward; he was not the first student in the room. The tall,
slender girl with porcelain skin and hair like hay bundled in a braid behind her
head had already staked her claim, marking her boundaries with her large
straw pocket book and gingham book bag. Her paisley skirt, spread over the
entire width of the seat, completely hid her legs, only exposing her tiny
ankles and, in brown sandals, the most slender, the whitest feet, like those of
the doll he was forbidden to touch in his grandmother's china closet. Isaac
sat down in the very back chair on the left side of the room, ran his fingers
over his dark black curls, and stared for what he knew must have been two or
three days. She did not look up, but continued to read her pages and pages of
yellow notepaper through her round-frame, gold-wire glasses. In a mousy
voice she said, "I saw Dr. Gillawater earlier, she should be in any minute."
Isaac only stared. The girl, this pale sliver of life, had been in class before,
but he had never been alone with her.
Dr. Gillawater arrived ten minutes late that day. She murdered her
cigarette in the ashtray at the door, heaved a portfolio onto the desktop, and
laid her notes on the lectern. Isaac thought how much she looked like a
gloomy elf with her short, paunchy body and white, boyish haircut with
straight bangs. After a few minutes of deliberation she began the psychology
class. The session covered the young adult stage of life, and Dr. Gillawater
spoke as if the spirit of the stage had fallen back into the cob webbed crannies
of her psyche. Her face contorted itself periodically to accomodate her false
Isaac didn't listen for long. He began scribbling on his notepaper,
dreaming of home and feeling cold. Occasionally, he looked at the girl with
the white feet. She seemed about as interested in the class as he was, but
continued to make notes on the yellow paper. Once she glanced his way, and
he thought that if she had looked a moment longer, he would have seen her
Not until he cleared his books off the desk did he see it on the wooden
desktop, etched between obscenities and memoirs of forgotten lovers:
"ARE YOU LONELY?"
He looked for Dr. Gillawater's eyes of authority. She had already left the
class. He took his pen and carefully wrote beneath the question:
"YES, I AM."
Isaacs schedule endowed him with two periods of "profitable study time"
between his psychology class and his next class, history. This period of
time was the longest of the day. He rarely used the time to study; he studied
during the long night hours that seemed to smother him in darkness.
Sometimes he occupied his free periods writing. Usually he spent the time
in restless limbo, ambling around campus, waiting for class. Today he found
himself in the library.
For Isaac, the library was a fascinating place. With its plush easy chairs
and rich variety of magazines, videos, and microfilm, the building was a
frequent refuge for him, a time-killer's fantasy. He walked past the plexiglass
sound-proof rooms to the book stacks.
The girl in Psychology class was named Reba - Reba Hartley. He
discovered that by investigating a yearbook from the year before. He stared at
the picture for a while before returning the book to its shelf.
He went to the bookstore to find a card for Michael but found nothing he
wanted or could afford. The only customer in the store, he felt awkward
walking out without making a purchase. He picked up a long, pink eraser
and set it on the counter in front of the lady with a bleached-blonde beehive.
"That'll be forty cents, honey." The coins danced across the counter.
"What's your name, darlin'?" she asked between smacks of gum and register
"Pardon?" Isaac blushed.
"I said, 'what's your name?' I haven't seen you around here before."
"Isaac. I'm a freshman."
"Isaac. Cute name." She ran her eyes down the length of his lean body
and back up again. "Jewish?"
"Half." The plastic bag felt slippery between his fingers.
"Take it easy, Isaac Freshman." She winked. "Come back and see us."
She patted her hair and snapped her gum. Once outside the door, Isaac threw
the bag away and crammed the eraser into his pocket
Isaac wandered Connor Hall down vacant corridors, absorbing bits and
pieces of lectures. He read the announcements on the bulletin board; he
straightened his hair in the reflection of a display cabinet; he walked to one
end of the hall and sipped water from the water cooler. A half hour later he
left Connor Hall and went to the cafeteria.
Isaac stumbled through the back entrance and examined the crowd Often
he would come here and watch, hoping to find characters he could write about
someday. No heads turned when Isaac entered the room, and no heads turned
as he walked between the tables of the music majors ("Are you sure about
that? I thought it was T-a la lala la la dee...'"), the English majors ("Of
course Mending Wall' shows a repression of homosexual tendencies..."
"That's the most ridi-" "It's all Oedipal..."), and the education students ("The
discipline stuff they teach you never works when you get into student
teaching..." "I know; Piaget never taught a class...."). All of the tables were
closed in chattering circles except one in the far front of the building. It was
empty. He continued to meander through the crowd of handsome hunks and
their beautiful leeches as he approached the table.
He was almost there when Reba entered from another direction and settled
down at the table with her straw pocket book and gingham book bag. Isaac
backed away. He turned in search of another table, but only one other wasn't
filled - the table where Dr. Gillawater sat staring out the window, drinking
her soup, her teeth on a napkin by her bowl. She seemed as morbid now as
she had in first period. Isaac went back to the library and re-read his history
assignment in a sealed sound-proof room.
He didn't write the next morning. He lay in bed, thinking. "You will
write?" He could feel Michael's words scratching at his chest "You will
write?" He pulled the sheet over his head. "You will write?" I can't write,
Michael. I don't have anything to write about. I'm not doing anything; I
don't have a soul to talk to. I wake up in the morning, come to school, go
home and watch the paint peel. I can't even find a job. What am I supposed
to be writing about? Romance? Lots of chances for that: a woman in the
bookstore winked at me yesterday. I'm just like you; girls just fall at my
feet There are no new people in my life since I left home. Except —
Reba was the first student in psychology the next morning, although Dr.
Gillawater's portfolio occupied the first seat. He took his seat in the back
and watched her. She polished her glasses and organized her notes.
He was opening his text for class when he saw it - a continuation of
"ARE YOU LONELY?"
"YES, I AM."
Then the following:
"I KNOW THE FEEUNG. IVE WATCHED YOU."
"THE WHOLE WORLD'S LONELY."
The following day, he checked his desktop and found another message:
"WANTED: ONE FRIEND."
He put his pen tip on the desktop to add something to the string of
correspondences, but he couldn't think of anything to write.
"Loneliness." The word from the lecture knocked his head upward.
"Today we will be discussing this phenomenon of the young adult stage of
life." Dr. Gillawater's steadfast expression of disinterest remained, but for the
first time during the quarter she left the lectern while speaking. "Recendy, I
flew alone to a convention on various aspects and contemporary issues in
psychology. I was amazed by the alarming statistics on loneliness in
America. According to leading psychologists, the population most
confronted with loneliness is the eighteen to twenty-five age range. I would
like to hear your opinions on this."
Isaac wasn't sure if she really wanted their opinions or if her dentures
were slipping and silence was her only choice. No one in the class breathed.
A boy with a ruddy complexion and thick arms was the first to speak. "I can
see where they're coming from. I mean, sometimes you just feel by
yourself." He paused and shook his head. "I mean, like sometimes I come
to school, go to work, go home, go to school. It's a cycle I go through. I
don't have a lot of time to make friends. You know what I mean?"
"That is the biggest joke I've ever heard," laughed a girl with a blond
ponytail. "The only reason these people..."
"What people?" Gillawater interrupted
"These people that say they're so lonely. The only reason they're lonely
is that they never do anything. If they'd get out and do something - get
involved with a club or something -- they wouldn't be so lonely."
"Isn't it possible to be lonely even if you belong to a group?" Isaac
looked at Reba, the student who was always first in class, as she spoke. She
took her gold-wire glasses from her eyes and placed them on her desktop.
"I've been lonely in a crowd. The real reason people are so lonely isn't
because they're not involved in stupid programs. The reason is that there are
so few caring people around. And those of us who do have a little
compassion, a little love, a little caring for the human spirit," her voice
wasn't mousy anymore, "are too scared to reach out to other people in the
Isaac ran his bony fingers over the chain of words etched in his desk top
As soon as class was over, Isaac left his books under his desk and
followed Reba. In the hall, Isaac tried to speak. He succeeded in making a
very loud "urn" which turned not only Reba's head but the heads of two other
girls and a basketball player. Isaac approached Reba; he stood remarkably
close to her - so close he could see the small wrinkles in the corners of her
eyes, just behind the gold rims.
"I liked what you said today."
"Thanks." Her voice was mousy again. "It just makes me mad to hear
people cut other people down that way. I know what it's like to be alone."
They both stood there a minute; then he looked down at his penny
loafers. "Well, I just wanted to tell you that I really was behind you today."
"Thanks. It's not as simple as everybody thinks; good friends are hard to
come by." He was sure he saw her smile. "I've seen you in the cafeteria
before. I started to speak, but..."
"Yen. It's a place I frequent occasionally." He played with a ravel that
hung from his shirt and thought of his stupidity.
"Well, 111 see you tomorrow." Reba walked away.
"Listen," he said hoarsely as she left. "Would you like to have lunch
today? I mean with me. Tm usually in the cafeteria around noon."
"I'll see you then." She definitely smiled.
Isaac hit the air with his fist and laughed out loud as soon as Reba was
out of sight Finally he had found someone. Was he jumping to
conclusions? Well, at least he had someone with whom he could share
lunch. He felt like he was swelling inside, as if he would emerge from his
skin as if it were a cocoon at any minute.
He went back into the room to get his books. He was embarrassed to go
back in at first, but no one was there. No one was there except Dr.
Gillawater, sitting in the corner, writing on a desktop.
Rivers run on beaches too.
People drift along the shore
seeking answers in the sand,
finding shells instead
Lovers wander by, bodies close together,
touching tightly in the evening air.
Someone stands looking long toward Europe,
waves tugging incessantly at his toes.
A family follows its smallest member,
who gallops ahead, then back, then forward again.
An old black dog bounds beside her,
a child too.
Generations pass in silence,
windswept wonder in their walk.
The same waves return.
Rivers run on beaches too.
SAME - SAME
"Re-be-kah," Mamma yells from the kitchen downstairs. Her voice
rumbles through the house. "What now?" I think to myself. When she calls
me Rebekah, something is wrong. I've already fed the cats and dogs, washed
the dishes and taken the trash out What more is there? I bet you she wants
me to fix Junnie a glass of lea. Well, I won't do it He thinks just because
he tells Mamma he's thirsty, HI turn into his slave. Well, he's wrong! Ill
tell him again, there is nothing wrong with his legs, so he can use them. I
tell you, that brother of mine it so lazy he can put a Persian cat to shame.
Good looking he may be, but no one could be as good looking as he thinks
"Ma'am?" I say.
"Come down stairs now!" Mamma says. "Your brother tells me you
wouldn't fix him a glass of tea. Is this true?" She towers over me.
"Yes Ma'am. He thinks he is the king of the castle, and I'm his
"Stop that sassing, and fix your brother a glass of tea," Mamma says
with a stern voice.
"Yes Ma'am." There was nothing else to do but say "yes Ma'am" and
do what she told me.
Bet you're wondering how my brother got a name like Junnie. Well,
it's all my fault. I didn't like the name Junior, that's what everybody called
him. Too goofy sounding, don't you think? One night last fall, we were all
together watching Andy Griffith, when Guber, one of the characters, was
imitating Cary Grant saying "Judy, Judy, Judy." I changes Judy to Junnie,
and it caught on like Sunday afternoon football. Junnie even liked the
"If you don't quit thumping me on the head, you're gonna be wearing
this tea instead of drinking it," I swear to Junnie.
Ralph, a close friend of my brother's, has to get in his two cents'
worth and says, "Spunky little sister you have there, Speedball." Speedball
is another nickname of Junnie's, one his friends gave him. He likes this
"Can't wait till you and Ralph leave. What's taking ya'U so long?" I
"If you didn't have so many mirrors, we would have been gone by
now," Ralph says with a smirky grin, looking right at Junnie. Tom even
got a laugh out of that.
Tom, who had sauntered into the kitchen while I was pouring the tea,
is my other brother, a year younger than Junnie and eight years older to the
day than I. Tom once told his friends that I was the worst birthday present he
ever got. I remember my tenth birthday Mamma threw Tom and me a party
together. He had this bleached blonde for a date; that's all I can remember
about the party: her white hair next to my Mamma's jet black hair. I
wonder if that had anything to do with what Daddy said to Tom that night
last week when they were arguing. Daddy said, "If I say the sky is blue, you
would say it's black, and if I say I feel partial to the ocean, you would say
you like the desert." Tom is an alright person. He just likes to argue.
Here we have the perfect family picture: Mamma in her smock and
bare feet hovering over the stove making her and Daddy a cup of coffee;
Daddy sitting at the kitchen table next to the full-length window reading the
Evening Press and watching the six o'clock news simultaneously; socks, in
ball form, flying across the kitchen, aimed at the wicker basket on top of the
refrigerator and tossed by none other than the three musketeers, Junnie, Tom,
and Ralph; and here I am stretched out, belly down on the floor, petting my
dog, John Brown.
"Tom, what are you doing tonight?" Mamma asks.
"Not much. I thought I would ride around Krystal's for awhile and
then maybe go to the beach," Tom answers.
Daddy breaks away from his paper and glares at Junnie to say, "Just
make sure you're home by twelve. We've got a lot of work to do tomorrow.
That goes for you, too, Fireball. "Fireball" is another nickname for Junnie
that originated when he was working with a welding crew and caught his
pants on fire.
"Tom, can I go with you for a little while?" I ask.
"What do you think?" he asks.
"I think yes."
"Well, you think wrong."
"It was worth a try. To get out of the house would be nice."
"And what is wrong with this house?" Mamma asks.
"Not a thing," I say. "Not a thing if you like being bored to death," I
add under my breath. Tom opens the back door to let John Brown out.
Junnie uses this opportunity for him and Ralph to make their escape. Then
Tom decides to go while the going is good.
"Becky, where are you going?" Mamma asks.
"Nowhere except to bed," I answer. I don't have to worry about
missing out on anything. "Good night, Mamma and Daddy."
"Sweet dreams, and don't let the bedbugs bite," Daddy says.
One thing about my family life is this: if you think you missed out
on an event around here, just come over tomorrow. It happens all over
My dreams are balloons
stuck on the ceiling
I'll gather them up
stuff them in my mouth
chew on them awhile
like a child
just to feel their texture.
Anna Mary Crowe Dewart
ASK AND YOU WILL RECEIVE
"Did that social worker tell you how long before your Ma can have
this here heart operation?" The big black woman's coarse breathing and
heavy footsteps puntuated each word
The slender girl answered soberly. "Mr. Meeks says hell push the
paperwork through and maybe shell be in the hospital by the Fourth of
"Child, that's three weeks. She needs that operation now."
"I know. I took him the doctor's letter. Mr. Meeks says hell do his
"Have you thought about asking the Boss?"
"The Boss?" Glory questioned reverendy. "I don't know, Bessie
"Glory Anne, you ain't af eared of him, is you?"
"No. No, course not." An image filled her mind; it was the Boss'
shadowed face and seething eyes. She didn't want to go to the hilltop. She
didn't want to talk with the Boss. "Bessie Mae, you being the nanny and
seeing him every day and all ~ well ~ he just couldn't say no to you. Will
you ask him for me?"
"You is scared." After looking into frightened green eyes, Bessie
Mae's face melted into sympathy. "Don't know why I'm such an old softy."
And the bulky woman steamed up the hill muttering about softheaded fools
and muleheaded girls.
Alone, Glory continued to trudge up the din path. She didn't notice
the powder-fine dust clinging to her bare toes and ankles, and settling on the
hem of her cheap cotton sundress. Again, a picture of the Boss intruded into
her thoughts. She had been within touching distance of him only once; a
message had needed delivering, and she had been the chosen one. He was a
slightly built man with a crown of golden hair. The sunlight spilled around
his large fan-backed chair to shroud his face and body in darkness, making
only his skyblue eyes discernible. The shiver that passed through her
snapped the spell.
Shaking off the vision, she stopped to allow the cool river breeze to
surround her thin body. She lifted her indian-brown face toward the sun, and
closed her eyes against its brightness. The air, hot and muggy, wrapped
around her like a blanket It drained her strength. As she stood there, a fly
circled her damp skin, only to be blown away by the next cooling breeze.
Seconds later, she detected the stench of her job. The smell of sweat-
drenched bodies and the sour decayed fish and musky rivermarsh sat on the
morning wind as it swirled throughout. Beulah Isle. It was a small lush
island, supporting only a handful of workers. These workers farmed the
water and supplied the outside world with seafood. Once a week they dug a
hole to bury the shells and heads and guts of their catch. During the rest of
the week, the remains fermented and the rotten smell hung over their heads.
Sighing, she began to move toward the squalid building sitting at the
river's edge. A song was flowing from the unpainted factory:
Like a bird from prison bars have flown,
I'll fly away (in the morning).
When I die, hallelujah by and by,
I'll fly away.
HI fly away, oh glory,
I'll fly away (in the morning).
When I die, hallelujah by and by,
I'll fly away.
Inside the hollow building, the voices blended in a strangely
melodious sound, conjuring a vision of blue penetrating eyes within a
shadowed face. The song surrounded her. And with her back erect, she
entered the house of songs and odors.
Glory was lucky; heading shrimp was one of the cushy, better-paid
jobs, reserved for the fastest workers. If her production fell, she would be
shuffled into the boxline, toting crates across the room and into the walk-in
freezer. The cold wet concrete under her feet gave relief from the burning
airlessness that pervaded the tin-roofed building. The cotton sundress, already
dark with moisture, clung uncomfortably around her hips and thighs. Her
indigo hair, now fastened back, hung in a long damp rope down her back.
Fine strands had escaped and formed a web on her cheeks and forehead. Every
now and again she would blow with quick little breathe in a vain attempt to
free her face. Her left arm was cramping, but she couldn't stop now. Hands
that had long ago toughened kept a steady shrimpheader's pace. Without
losing her rhythm, she swiped at her face with her shoulder, and tried to
ignore the stiffness in her spine.
"Glory Anne, Glory honey, where are you?"
When her steamroller stride came to a halt, Bessie Mae croaked in
excitement, "The Boss, he done fixed everything. You take that old pickup
and get your Ma to the hospital, and they going to operate on her tomorrow."
"You mean it? The Boss fixed it?"
"Yeah, and you'd best get a move on."
The next morning was fine and warm. Clouds floated in a brilliant
blue sky, and birds darted to and fro. As she bounced up the road, each puff
of wind lifted her hair and nuzzled her heated body. Her Ma was having her
operation today. Soon she would be home and well.
"Glory Anne, what you doing coming up this here road? You
belongs with your Ma."
The young girl stopped long enough to wrap her arms around the old
woman's plentiful figure and pat her lovingly on the back. "Hi, Bessie Mae.
You know I can't miss work. Can't afford to. Besides, the doctor promised
to call me soon as it's over."
That afternoon, encircled by noise, Glory thought longingly of the
morning's walk down the silent path. The thin plank walls of the factory
vibrated with the force of banging crates and cleaning tools. These sounds
somehow complemented the song the workers were singing.
A rough male voice cut through the melody. "Make way; load's
coming in." The clank of metal buckets and the thud of falling shrimp
accompanied the burly voice. Glory watched the little gray creatures tumble
onto the table. Here on land, their bulging black eyes and sharp whiskered
beaks looked repulsive; yet underwater, they looked like fairies dancing
through soft dreams.
"Glory Anne, phone."
Glory froze. Her face paled. The song receded, as though coming
from a long distance. She clutched a shrimp in her left fist and stiffly turned
to look for the voice that had spoken. She saw the hand that held the black
receiver. Without conscious effort, her feet carried her slowly forward.
Standing in front of the hand, she willed herself to take the instrument. She
listened. One by one, the workers hushed their singing. Gendy, she placed
the receiver back into its cradle and turned with wide blank eyes to gaze at the
workers. The warmth of her left hand made her look down, and she saw
blood oozing between her fingers. The pretty little fairy's sharp beak had
punctured her palm. She watched as the blood-covered shrimp fell to the
floor, then walked across the room and out the doorway. The workers began
to sing in low moaning tones.
Unconsciously, she walked toward the water. She sat on the empty
dock looking out across the river while the waters gently licked and soothed
her dangling feet. The sun was going down and the glistening surface
reflected oranges and reds and purples. Marsh-covered riverbanks stood at the
sun's base, and the reeds shot up like fingers reaching for the last bit of fire.
The gulls, purple against the glowing orange ball, were going home.
Shrouded in these strange colors, the familiar landscape before her had
become unreal. And as she gazed out over this new world, she wondered at
the difference twenty-four hours could make.
Behind her, she could hear the workers singing their sorrow, but this
song could not lift her. Instead, it raged inside her head. The image of a
shadowed face and luminous eyes reaching toward her joined the song.
Maybe tomorrow it would lift her.
And as she sat all alone in the purple sunset, with only the tapping
waters for comfort, the light in the house on the hilltop appeared to brighten
the darkening sky.
Maggie drew a loving hand across the cellophane- wrapped surface of a
beef roast, sighing plaintively. Kroger's always has the best selection of
meats, she thought to herself as she noted with satisfaction the slightly
marbled texture of the dark red beef. She permitted herself the luxury of
examining first the roasts, then the steaks, and even the pork chops before
moving on to the hamburger she had come for. She placed the firm, solid-
feeling package in her cart with a mother's care.
Strolling blissfully along through the store, Maggie took a kind of
stry delight in fingering all the packages. On the cookie aisle, she looked
around nervously before leaning close to the ginger snaps and sniffing deeply.
Even the smell of the cardboard didn't daunt her; she put a box in her cart and
She didn't linger when picking up the milk and cheese; the shining
chrome surfaces of the refrigerated storage box reflected her short, lumpy
form disturbingly. But she stood for a long while before the baked goods,
entranced by the warm, cinnamony smells and the glistening, sugared
The girl behind the counter watched the plumpish greying woman for
some time before speaking. "Could I help you find something?" her voice,
tinged with annoyance, finally asked
Maggie was temporarily unbalanced. "Why, no, thank you. I was
It was time to go. Maggie looked at her shopping list to make sure
she hadn't forgotten anything, and discovered that she had failed to buy
anything at all for herself. She pushed wearily on to the produce section and
stood for a long while dejectedly prodding the vegetables before deciding what
to buy: apples and peaches and pears, lettuce and tomatoes and cucumbers.
/ guess it 11 be tossed salad again tonight, she thought to herself.
As she was weighing her apples, she heard a familiar voice calling her
name. She turned to see Barbara coming toward her, her cart empty except
for a few containers of yogurt and some bananas.
"Maggie, darling, how are you? You look great!"
Maggie glanced down at a sneakered foot and muttered her thanks.
"It's good to see you, Barbara."
"It's nice seeing you, too. It's been ages." She eyed Maggie's full
shopping cart. "And how is Bob, anyway? I've been thinking for a while
now about inviting the two of you over for dinner some night"
Maggie stiffened, instantly wary. • "Well, I really don't know. Bob's
been working a lot of long hours lately, and I don't know if hell feel up to
going out Why don't you let me call you?"
"OK, fine. Ill just wait till I hear from you, then." She smiled.
"I'm so proud of you for sticking to your diet! How long's it been now, two
"Three, come Saturday."
"Wonderful! And how much have you lost?"
Maggie looked away, suddenly consumed with interest in the broccoli
spears. "I'm not sure - I haven't weighed in a while. But I feel thinner."
"And you look thinner, too. I'm just so happy for you! Look, Tve
got to run; the kids'll be home from school in a few minutes, and if I'm not
home to provide snacks therell be trouble. See you soon!"
Maggie watched her friend trotting off to get in line at the express
checkout, the skirt of her white tennis dress swirling about her taut thighs.
Then she turned away, the effort of her smile still clinging to her face.
On her way to the checkout line, Maggie stopped off at the freezer
compartment Just because I'm on a diet is no reason for Bob to suffer, she
thought I'll just pick up a carton of ice cream, for a special treat.
She toyed with the hard, cold bricks of ice cream, trying to remember
which kind Bob preferred. Then she saw a new flavor, "Heavenly Hash," and
decided to try that one on him. Suddenly embarrassed, afraid she'd be seen,
she stuffed the carton beneath a bag of pears and hurried on to the checkout
Standing in line was the hardest part. The candy display beckoned to
her with the maddening, slightly waxy smell of chocolate. In an attempt to
divert her attention, Maggie studied the covers of the pulp magazines that
stared her down from their metal racks. Linda Evans' cold blue stare assured
her that eating only grapefruit and celery would guarantee a svelte figure in
two weeks; the Enquirer promised miracles with peanut butter. Maggie's
fingers itched to pick up one of the magazines and read about these amazing
diets, discover their secrets, but her pride wouldn't let her be seen actually
reading one. Still, she wondered.
Just as the candy was beginning to tug at the edges of her mind again,
Maggie's thoughts were intruded upon. "Excuse me." An obscenely fat
woman wearing polyester shorts shoved her way through, reaching down and
grabbing a Snickers bar with one hand, a Ladies Home Journal with the
other. "They have the greatest recipes in this magazine. Have you ever read
it?" she asked
Maggie looked about, flustered. "Why, no, I never have," she replied,
painfully conscious of the bulges of flab on the woman's ghosdy white legs.
The woman returned to her place at the back of the line, absently
turning the pages of the magazine as she began to munch her candy bar.
Maggie sighed with relief as the checkout girl started pulling her groceries
from the cart
Bob was late, as usual. Maggie peeked anxiously at the lasagna in
the over for the hundredth time, terrified that it might be drying out There's
nothing Bob hates worse than dried-out lasagna, she thought This time the
situation was particularly delicate; she'd never tried to cut her mother's
lasagna recipe into fourths before. She hoped she'd gotten all the calculations
She heard the front door as it opened "Bob?" she called, drying her
hands on her apron as she rushed into the living room.
He stood in the hallway, his sample case at his feet, sorting through
the mail on the table as he loosened his tie. "Hiya, dumpling, what's up?"
he sang out cheerfully, dropping the mail and holding out his beefy arms for
"Oh, nothing much. How was your day?"
She listened patiently as he recounted the day's triumphs and petty
defeats entertainingly for her. As he talked, she backed into the kitchen to
get his dinner out of the oven and set the table. When he had finished his
story, she said, "I thought we'd eat in the dining room tonight, Bob. I made
something kind of special."
"It smells great," he said, dipping a quick finger into the tomato sauce
at the edge of the pan.
"Careful! You'll burn yourself, silly. I just took that out of the
oven. Now go and wash up, and 111 have it ready when you get back."
Bob obeyed, whistling softly as he went into the back of the house.
By the time he returned to the dining room, she had already heaped his
plate with steaming lasagna. At her place, however, there was only a small
bowl of tossed salad.
"Aren't you going to eat with me?" he asked, an edge coming into his
"Oh, Bob, you know I can't eat food like that"
"Well, what fun is it for me to eat by myself?"
"You're not by yourself. I'm right here."
"Yeah, but you're not eating. That rabbit-food doesn't count, and you
know it I don't know why you bothered setting up in here; there's no point
to it, just for me."
Maggie looked down into her salad bowl, stricken. "Bob, I only
wanted to please you. I thought you'd enjoy eating in here for a change.
Since I've been on this diet, you're always complaining that we never have a
real meal together." She stirred at her lettuce leaves despondently, as if
searching for something more interesting beneath them.
He didn't say anything, just tucked his napkin into his open collar and
began to eat. "Urn," he taunted, a little cruelly. "This is really great
You've out-done yourself, dumpling." He looked up at her slyly. "Don't
you want to try just a little taste?"
For a moment, Maggie brightened. Then she shook her head sadly.
"No. I can't have any. But thanks, anyway."
"Too bad. It's really delicious." He continued to eat with obvious
relish, occasionally emitting little groans of satisfaction.
Maggie watched him closely for a while. A tiny spot of tomato
sauce clung to the left side of his chin; she stared at it in fascination until
finally he rubbed it away with the corner of his napkin. Catching her eye, he
reproached her. "If you're going to sit there and stare at me like that, I'm
going to lose my appetite."
She looked quickly away, and began to eat her salad Ugh, she
thought. If I never see another piece of lettuce in my life, it'll be too soon.
Some time later, after Bob had retired into the bedroom to watch
television while he ate his dessert, Maggie stood before the sink, absent-
mindedly washing up the dishes. She stared at her reflection in the dark
windowpane over the sink, thinking about what she'd fix Bob for breakfast in
the morning. For the six years they'd been married, she had made it a point
to prepare a special breakfast on Saturday mornings. Sometimes it was
standard fare: bacon, eggs, hash browns, toast; sometimes she made french
toast with sausage. She thought she'd try something a little more ambitious
this time, put the waffle-iron her mother-in-law had given her to use. What
goes well with waffles, she asked herself. Maybe sausage, like with the
She had finished the dishes, and could linger in the kitchen no longer.
She realized that she was still hungry, as always. Grabbing a pear from the
refrigerator, she went into the bedroom to watch television with Bob.
He was absorbed in a football game, eating a bowl full of "Heavenly
Hash." She crouched on the edge of the bed and, curling her small, round
body in upon itself and holding the pear in her tiny paws, she began to take
small, furtive bites, looking around after each one as if in fear that someone
would try to take it away from her. Bob glared at her, annoyed.
"Do you have to make so much noise with that thing? Why is it that
everything you eat lately crunches?"
"Sorry," she retorted with an attempt at sarcasm. "I'm surprised you
can hear anything over the roar of that stupid game."
"What's that?" he asked, cocking his head almost belligerently.
"Nothing." She threw the pear in the wastebasket; she didn't really
want it, anyway.
During the next commercial, Maggie decided to try and make peace.
Searching her mind for a neutral topic of conversation, she hit upon Barbara.
"I saw Barbara Graham in the grocery store today. She said something about
inviting us over for dinner some time soon."
"Great," Bob said, his lip curling with scorn. "That's just what I
need, to go and eat dinner with that crazy bitch. I suppose she's behind this
latest diet thing, huh?" He looked at his wife coldly. "Well, if you want to
look like her, all scrawny and malnourished, it's your business. But I think
Maggie said nothing, turning her attention instead to the Pizza Hut
commercial on television. But when the game continued, she found her mind
Bob's spoon was scraping at the bottom of his bowl now. The sound
tugged at Maggie, and she soon became fascinated with the sight of the laden
spoon travelling again and again to her mouth as he stared at the television
set She licked her lips, painfully aware of the scent of chocolate drifting
over the expanse of bed toward her. Her eyes narrowed, and her back became
abruptly stiff as she noted the way he paused between bites to chew the tiny
bits of chocolate and nuts between his front teeth. She was so absorbed in
watching him that she failed to notice when he stopped eating and started
staring back at her.
"What the hell is it this time?" he cried, exasperated
Maggie ignored the question, posing one of her own instead. "What's
"What's in what?" Bob was really shouting now.
"The ice cream. What's in it?"
"Oh, for Chrissake!" Bob rolled his eyes with exaggerated annoyance.
"No, really. I'm only curious. What's in it, exactly? Please tell
He began to laugh, a cruel, humourless laugh. "You really want to
know? Well, it's in the freezer. Whyn't you see for yourself?"
Much later, Maggie lay sleepless at the very edge of the bed, trying
not to disturb her snoring husband. Hunger was by now a sharp pain in her
mind as well as her stomach, and she feared she'd never sleep. Finally, she
decided that the only thing that could satisfy her was an answer to her earlier,
only half -joking question. She crept from the bed and down the hall into the
She didn't turn on any lights, but made her way direcdy to the freezer.
When she opened the door, the kitchen was bathed in an eerie, bluish light,
by which it was just possible for her to read the list of ingredients on the side
of the ice cream carton. Milk, cocoa, sugar, chocolate chips, nuts,
marshmallow nougat Just as she'd thought: those were nut he'd been
But her satisfaction was short-lived. She thought with disgust of the
meagre dinner she'd had, and the equally meagre results. Bob was furious
with her, and she hadn't lost an ounce in over a week. Discouraged, she came
to an uncomfortable decision. She would have a bite, just one bite, of ice
cream. Just to make her feel better, so she could sleep. She reached for a
spoon in the dish drainer and began to eat
A few moments of happiness passed, and a guilty smile crawled over
Maggie's face as she continued to eat But just as she was about to quit and
go back to bed, she was found out
Bob entered the kitchen and flipped on the light with a delighted " An-
na!" Maggie froze, unsure whether she should drop the evidence and run or
simply make up some ridiculous excuse for her bad behavior. But to her
surprise, he didn't give her a hard time. He just took the carton from her
hands and replaced it in the freezer, a tender smile on his face.
Maggie began to cry. "It's OK, honey," Bob commiserated, taking
her in his arms and stroking her back. He pried the spoon from her fist and
laid it on the counter, then held her for a long moment, rocking her gently
back and forth and murmuring soothingly.
Gradually, Maggie's sobs trailed away to be replaced by an endless
succession of mumbled apologies, to him, to Barbara, to herself.
"Come on, dumpling," Bob whispered. "Let's go to bed."
So gracefully they wave their wings
Beyond the surf, the pelicans
The tips of waves
Or so it seems as they glide by
Unhurriedly they move as one
Two lines converge
And point the way
Intent upon their hunting run
Unknowingly a grey parade
They rise and fall with sociable ease
Abruptly up -
Then down again
As though they swam on waves of air
Through wind-cupped wings revealed
How parallel their perfect paths
They cannot seem to be
By jealous waves who envy flight
So simple and serene
A gentle jesting irony it is
Feathered clowns afoot
Should be so wonderous fleet
Above the waves, the pelicans
RELIGIOUS SYMBOLISM IN FLANNERY
Maria B. Dunn
In Flannery O'Connor's "Greenleaf," the protagonist, Mrs. May,
experiences self-realization during her last moments of life. The method by
which O'Connor turns an account of a bestial attack into a spiritual
awakening is through the use of overt religious symbolism. This
symbolism manifests itself in the function of some of the story's characters:
Mrs. May, the Greenleafs, their twin sons, the May sons, and the bull. The
story's climax is reached at its violent conclusion, and although one is not
sure of the magnitude of her self-realization, Mrs. May experiences her
moment of grace at that particular time. O'Connor expressed her uncertainty
regarding the achievement of this theme of redemption in a letter to a friend:
"I am very happy right now writing a story ['Greenleaf ] in which I plan for
the heroine, aged 63, to be gored by a bull. I am not convinced yet that this
is purgation or whether I identify myself with her or the bull. In any case, it
is going to take some doing to do it and it may be the risk that is making me
Purgation, or rather one's experience of redemption, was a theme very
much addressed by Flannery O'Connor. This theme runs through some of
her better known works such as "Revelation," The Violent Bear It Away* and
Wise Blood, In "Greenleaf," the theme of redemption is brought to the
foreground by the character of Mrs. May. One must see some irony in the
name designated to the protagonist of this story, yet one cannot be altogether
sure that this was the intention of the author. Flannery O'Connor's disdain
of the dissection of her work was renowned. In a letter to an English
professor dated June 6, 1964, Miss O'Connor states that she had no real
motive behind naming Mrs. May what she did except that, perhaps, "some
English teacher would write and ask me why...." 2 It is O'Connor's same
evasiveness, however, that prompts some readers to analyze the character and
her name. In Mrs. May's vain attempts to confine the natural and spiritual
sources of life, she seems mocked by the dual suggestions of her name. To
be thought of as a participant in the springtime fertility rites of May surely
contradicts her character, and, as "May" is a shortened form of "Mary," she is
also compared with the Mother of divine life. 3
These ironic suggestions of her name better illustrate the flatness of
Mrs. May's character. She is a stubborn and, at the same time, well-meaning
person who only wants for herself what she has rightfully worked to obtain.
But that she can envision herself in front of some "judgement seat" declaring
that in her life she has worked and not wallowed is also indicative of her
overweening pride. 4 Not surprisingly, then, one can interpret the story's
violent conclusion in light of Mrs. May's hubris, and it is the conformity of
her development throughout the story which enables the reader to deem Mrs.
May a flat character.
Frederick Asals, author of a most insightful article on "Green leaf,"
further explains Mrs. May's symbolic function in the story: "Mrs. May is
an ironic garden doubly enclosed, sealed up sterilely behind the protecting
fences of the hedge and the "black wall of trees' bounding her property, locked
in the denials of her ego." 5 Mrs. May's repressed emotions are vented by
the routine of her work and, through this method, her character exposes the
bitter and frequently superior attitudes it possesses. Asals further writes on
the willfulness of Mrs. May's soul: "Nature holds no revelations for Mrs.
May. A country woman only T>y persuasion,' she meets the natural world -
- and indeed existence itself ~ as negative pressures to be resisted, hostile
forces to be bent to her will." 6
This obstinate overcoming of the world is made evident by Mrs.
May's readiness to change her will in such a way that the inevitably foolki
marriages of her sons, Wesley and Scofield, will not destroy all that she has
worked to acquire. 7 We shall learn more of Mrs. May's sons later, but one
should note that although she is a stubborn and generally overbearing
woman, Mrs. May has virtually no control over her mocking sons. She also
exerts little influence over her hired hand, Greenleaf.
The Greenleafs are a shiftlessly large and uneducated family. With the
exception of the twins, E.T. and O.T., the family has lived on Mrs. May's
farm for fifteen years. Mrs. Greenleaf, an unkempt prayer healer, repulses
Mrs. May, and Mrs. May also believes that Mr. Greenleaf is a cunning farm
hand. The Greenleaf family is clearly the antagonist in the story.
Furthermore, the family name is filled with religious symbolism. Asal
On the one hand, their very primitiveness associates them with
the springs of natural life, as their burgeoning family testifies;
yet their unbuttoned fertility also metaphorically receives
divine sanction in Jeremiah 17: 7-8: "Blessed is the man that
trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. For he shall
be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her
roots by the river, and shall not see when the heat cometh, but
her leaf shall be green . . . ." The Greenleafs' primitive
reverence for all earthly life, which reveals itself in the
excesses of Mrs. Greenleafs prayer healing and the surly
absurdity of her husband's reluctance to destroy the bull, merges
indistinguishably into their crude Christianity . . . .°
Mrs. Greenleaf, who is encountered only once in the story, is
mystically linked to the realm of the Eternal. She is a fanatically religious
woman who sometimes shows her devotion by sprawling herself on the
ground and by making loud pleas to Jesus. This demonstrates an all-
embracing love for Christ Perhaps these actions seem primitive and
grotesque, yet they are quite natural. In comparison, Mrs. May's "cold-cream-
laden" face and "green rubber curlers* 1 symbolize her artificiality. 9
By contrast, Mr. Greenleaf is a complacent and unhurried person.
Yet, like his wife, Mr. Greenleaf seems to be closely linked to the natural
world, as his walk ~ one that seems to be "on the perimeter of some
invisible circle" -- suggests. To Mrs. May, this peculiarity symbolizes Mr.
Greenleaf s uselessness as a worker, but it can also be interpreted as his
closeness to the cyclic rhythms of nature. 10
O'Connor's theme of redemption is further unraveled by the attitudes
of Mrs. May and the Greenleaf s toward religion. The author does this by her
use of suggestive compression and by paralleling Mrs. May's attitudes toward
the bull and religion. Through the use of suggestive compression, O'Connor
turns the encounter in the woods between Mrs. May and Mrs. Greenleaf into
a foreshadowing device. This scene also functions as a descriptive observance
to a reaction. ^ When O'Connor writes that Mrs. May "felt as if some
violent unleashed force had broken out of the ground and was charging toward
her," we receive a vivid portrayal of Mrs. May's disgust upon hearing Mrs.
Greenleaf s pleas to Jesus and of the violent finale as well. 12 Stuart L.
Burns, author of an article on O'Connor's use of sun imagery, further writes
on Mrs. May's repressed attitude toward religion: "Her attitude toward the
bull closely parallels her religious philosophy. She beleives that both Christ
and the bull should be confined, the former to the church, the latter to a pen -
- her reasoning in both cases being that, let loose, each represents a threat to
good breeding." 13 It is her repression of natural emotions that helps the
reader accept Mrs. May's death in spite of its seemingly unjust violence.
There is clearly a difference, then, between the symbolic function of
Mrs. May and that of the Greenleaf s in their expressions and acceptance of
religious belief. It is this difference that also allows for the mythic and
religious implications of the bull. Frederick Asals best summarizes the
difference between protagonist and antagonist: "Mrs. May is a decent,
orderly, well-meaning woman, but her embattled existence is clearly fruitless
in every sense, the sterile assertion of ego and empty social values. The
Greenleafs, on the other hand, are clearly at one with the divine powers, yet
they are so primitively responsive to animal and mystical life that they
emerge as a radically anti-social force . . . ." 14
To further analyze O'Connor's use of religious symbolism throughout
"Greenleaf," one must also examine the "double thematic movement" that the
May boys and the Greenleaf twins project within the story. 15 The May
boys, who were as different as "night and day," and the Greenleaf twins, who,
according to their tenant farmer, were "'like one man in two skins,'"
underscore this movement and give the story its symbolically mythic
aspects. 16 These aspects do not vary greatly from nor adhere to any
particular set of myths. Instead, O'Connor draws from a combination of
primitive mythologies. We will see this quality more manifestly in the last
"character" discussed: the bull.
The May boys (Wesley, a professor, Scofield, an insurance salesman,
both unmarried) are interestingly created to function as a mirror for their
mother's spiritual shortcomings. Frederick Asals states: "Like distorting
mirrors, her sons send back at her grotesque reflections of her own values.
Wesley's snarling self-pity is an uglier version of her own . . . , and
Scofield's grubbing pursuit of money is only a debased form of [Mrs. May's]
'practicality' . . . ." 17 That the boys' taunting of their mother is a vessel for
the transport of their resentment is obvious. Yet this is solely the fault of
Mrs. May, who, through her pride and close-mindedness, instilled these
horrible traits into her otherwise uninspired children. Indeed, Wesley's
vicious remark to Mrs. May at the breakfast table that he "wouldn't milk a
cow to save [her] soul from hell," illustrates the masculine hostility with
which Mrs. May is surrounded. For it is not only her sons, but also the
twins and Mr. Greenleaf who give abuse in return for her lodgings and wages.
Mrs. May's spiritual and physical sterility is further mirrored by her
sons when they are compared to the Greenleaf twins, E.T. and O.T. The
Greenleaf twins carry out their roles as fathers, husbands, and sons with ease.
The May boys are ill-tempered and unproductive. 19 On a comical note,
O'Connor has Mrs. May sarcastically comment on the Greenleafs' pride in
just having had twins "as if this were something smart they had thought of
Ironically, the greatest difference between the two sets of sons is the
fact that the Greenleafs are twins. The connotation of twin offspring has
always been favorable throughout time, as Frederick Asals explains. "In
ancient tradition, twins could be maleficent or beneficent, accursed or sacred,
yet almost universally they were believed closely related to the supernatural
and thought to possess extraordinary powers, chiefly connected with
fertility." ** The supernaturalness behind the financially successful twins is
also enhanced by the fact that they never appear onstage. Their mysterious
presences hide laughingly behind the extension of both their souls, the bull.
22 Accordingly, when the tenant farmer declares that his bosses are "like
one man in two skins,'" his remark further supports the supernatural force
"with which primitive peoples invested the appearance of the 'double soul.'"
Therefore, to examine the characters of the May boys and that of the
Greenleaf twins is really to compare fertility with infertility, bliss with
misery, and reverence with irreverence. Mrs. May's justification for the
success of the "scrub-human" Greenleaf twins is, of course, World War Two.
The last character one must study in O'Connor's use of religious
symbolism throughout "GreenleaT is the bull. The animal immediately
takes on the dual representations of Christ or any of the mythical gods of
fertility before the first paragraph of the story ends. In Frederick Asals'
article, "The Mythic Dimensions of Flannery O'Connor's 'Greenleaf,'" he
also points out that the bull's horns (the focus on which the story opens and
concludes) can represent the two characters of Christ as Tierce judge" and
"gende Saviour." 24 Moreover, this interpretation would better illustrate
O'Connor's idea of the "unbreakable grip" with which the bull's horns finally
espouse Mrs. May's empty soul. This grisly portrayal suggests an
association with the coming of Christ into the life of Mrs. May. In this
sense, one can view the coming of Christ as an agony and, at the same time,
a lover's embrace. ^ However, Josephine Hendin points out "The scrub
bull whose sperm will harm Mrs. May's cows ... is one of O'Connor's
ambiguous symbols. He may be Christ, a god wearing a prickly crown, as
he gnaws at Mrs. May's shrubs, yet his crucifixion of the lady on his horns
results in a perception of nothingness." 26 Even if the reader chooses to
dismiss the religious symbolism behind the bull, its role should at least
intimate Mrs. May's view of virility and her experiences with the hostility of
men toward her.
The reader should, of course, combine the dual suggestions of the
bull's overwhelming presence with O'Connor's use of two other frequendy
mentioned images in the story. Stuart L. Bums explains:
The sun, a scrub bull and a silver bullet combine to dramatize
the divine agency of Christ in this story. The Greenleaf s bull
(Christ's earthly nature) is first seen "silvered in the moonlight
. . . like some patient god come down to woo" Mrs. May. . . .
"Silvered" suggests a link between bull and bullet, while later
bull and sun are metaphorically associated: "Looking down,
she saw a darker shape that might have been its [the sun's]
shadow . . moving among them." The symbolic
configuration is completed when Mrs. May pictures the sun as
being "like a silver bullet ready to drop into her brain." This
last passage vividly stresses her alienation from Christ and the
promise of redemption in terms of her hostility to the sun. 2 '
As previously noted, the use of suggestive compression is
masterfully woven throughout "Greenleaf." The images of the bull, the sun,
and the bullet all indirecdy explain Mrs. May's imminent redemption to the
reader. It is the subtieness of the use of suggestive compression that allows
the story to be so intricately constructed and yet so easily understood. There
are, however, other literary devices that help the reader successfully grasp the
meaning of the story's climax. We have examined O'Connor's use of
suggestive compression, but there are also figures of speech that abound
throughout "GreenteaT and are laden with religious symbolism. These
figures of speech (i.e., "like a rough chalice," "like a silver bullet, " "like a
menacing prickly crown") juxtapose religion and nature in such a manner that
these forces jointly emphasize O'Connor's theme of redemption. 28 It may
be the very juxtaposition of such elements that allows for the comical yet
distressing sensations the conclusion of the story produces. Moreover, it
should be noted that it is O'Connor's tone that produces such an effect
Miles Orvell, author of Invisible Parade: The Fiction of F tannery O'Connor,
explains this literary device: "The tone of the story, meanwhile, is governed
by a carefully modulated comic control, whereby seemingly gratuitous
violence is subsumed under a vision of order." 29
The violence within the conclusion is itself full of religious
symbolism. It is the effectiveness of this violence which distinguishes
writers like Flannery O'Connor, William Faulkner, and others who employ
images of the grotesque in their work. Orvell states: "In the process by
which the bull comes to symbolize something more mysterious than a dumb
beast, one can see an accession to mystery through the painful annihilation
of the flesh." 30 It is the violence which, finally, raises the question of
redemption in the reader's mind. When the bull gores Mrs. May, does her
soul undergo a spiritual awakening? One does not know, as the story ends
with her death, but one might gather that the final discovery which Mrs. May
whispers into the bull's ear is probably void of any self-interest or
indifference. Indeed, when we are told that "she had the look of a person
whose sight has suddenly been restored but who finds the light unbearable,"
one can imagine that, like St Paul, Mrs. May was blinded by the brilliance
of her spiritual realization. 31
The theme of redemption in "GreenleaF can only be understood when
the reader examines the nature of its characters and the violence of its
conclusion. It is primarily through the use of religious symbolism in her
characters and the exercise of various literary devices throughout the story
that O'Connor underscores one of her favorite literary themes. Frederick
Asals comparatively summarizes O'Connor's work. "What Miss O'Connor
presents in 'Greenleaf is a kind of smaller modern version of Euripides'
Bacchae with Mrs. May as the Pentheus figure whose refusal to acknowledge
the essential physical and spiritual terms of life calls down upon her the
fittingly ironic punishment of the gods." 32
1 Flannery O'Connor, ed, Sally Fitzgerald, The Habit of Being
(New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1979), p. 129.
2 Ibid., p. 582.
3 Frederick Asals, "The Mythic Dimensions of Flannery O'Connor's
'Greenleaf,'" Studies in Short Fiction , 5 (1968), 321-322.
4 Flannery O'Connor, ed, Sally Fitzgerald, Three by Flannery
O'Connor (New York: Signet Classic, 1983), p. 305.
5 Frederick Asals, "The Mythic Dimensions of Flannery O'Connor's
'Greenleaf,'" Studies in Short Fiction , 5 (1968), 322.
6 Ibid., p. 320.
7 Ibid., p. 321.
8 Ibid., p. 322.
9 Stuart L. Burns, "Torm by the Lord's Eye': Flannery O'Connor's
Use of Sun Imagery," Twentieth Century Literature , 13 (1967), 162.
10 Frederick Asals, "The Mythic Dimensions of Flannery O'Connor's
'Greenleaf,'" Studies in Short Fiction , 5 (1968), 323.
11 Stuart L. Burns, "Torn by the Lord's Eye': Flannery O'Connor's
Use of Sun Imagery," Twentieth Century Literature , 13 (1967), 162.
12 Flannery O'Connor, ed., Sally Fitzgerald, Three By Flannery
O'Connor (New York: Signet Classic, 1983), p. 290.
13 Stuart L. Burns, "Torn by the Lord's Eye': Flannery O'Connors
Use of Sun Imagery," Twentieth Century Literature , 13 (1967), 161.
14 Frederick Asals, "The Mythic Dimensions of Flannery O'Connor's
'Greenleaf,'" Studies in Short Fiction , 5 (1968), 329.
15 Ibid., p. 325.
16 Flannery O'Connor, ed., Sally Fitzgerald, Three By Flannery
O'Connor (New York: Signet Classic, 1983), p. 289, 299.
17 Frederick Asals, "the Mythic Dimensions of Flannery O'Connor's
'Greenleaf,'" Studies in Short Fiction , 5 (1968), 321.
18 Josephine Hendin, The World of Flannery O'Connor
(Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1970), p. 113.
19 Stuart L. Burns, "Tom by the Lord's Eye': Flannery O'Connor's
Use of Sun Imagery," Twentieth Century Literature , 13 (1967), 162.
20 Flannery O'Connor, ed., Sally Fitzgerald, Three By Flannery
O'Connor (New York: Signet Classic, 1983), p. 292.
21 Frederick Asals, "The Mythic Dimensions of Flannery O'Connor's
'Greenleaf,'" Studies in Short Fiction , 5 (1968), 324.
22 Ibid., p. 324.
23 Ibid., p. 324.
24 Ibid., p. 326.
25 Miles Orvell, Invisible Parade: The Fiction of F tannery O'Connor
(Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1972), p. 27.
26 Josephine Hendin, The World of Flannery O'Connor
(Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1970), p. 114-115.
27 Stuart L. Bums, "Torn by the Lord's Eye': Flannery O'Connor's
Use of Sun Imagery," Twentieth Century Literature , 13 (1967), 161.
28 James A. Grimshaw, Jr., The Flannery O'Connor Companion
(Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1981), p. 53.
2 9 Miles Orvell, Invisible Parade: The Fiction of Flannery O'Connor
(Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1972), p. 23.
30 Ibid., p. 23.
31 Flannery O'Connor, ed., Sally Fitzgerald, Three By Flannery
O'Connor (New York: Signet Classic, 1983), p. 306.
32 Frederick Asals, "The Mythic Dimensions of Flannery O'Connor's
'Greenleaf,'" Studies in Short Fiction , 5 (1968), 329.
Snapshot: Bob Strozier, mid-winter, 1983
He holds the stetson over his heart
And smiles at the camera.
As it shoots the picture,
His hat crown becomes its bulls-eye.
Snapshot: Day Student
Rising listlessly -
The lecture over -
He saunters past me
Proudly wearing last night's hickey.
Snapshot: Pedalling in the Red Light District
The press of early morning traffic:
Stopped, I am restless to move;
I play with the gas, race with the pedal,
And turn my mind to the corner just ahead.
Then my absent eye catches the double reflection;
A car ahead winks at mine.
LOVE OF MY LIFE
I don't know why I fall in love so damn easily. I guess it's part of
being an incurable romantic. Or it could be that I watch too many "Love,
American Style" reruns. My analyst has an interesting theory about it all -
- he says that I'm certifiably wacko. I guess the most unnerving feature of
my affliction is that I am able to fall in love virtually anywhere at any given
time; I have become eternally enamoured in grocery lines, at the library, in
my political science class (can one really fall in love in a political science
class?), and who knows where else?
It can even happen while I'm driving to work, which is precisely
what occurred on one fateful afternoon. I was driving down the expressway
in my usual state of semi-consciousness, when my eyes were suddenly
assaulted by the most beautiful sight I ever beheld. There she was, radiating
down upon me from the billboard above the Serve YourOwnDamnSelf gas
station. I must confess that this time it wasn't my typical five-minute love
affair because the object of my yearning had not two eyes but two headlights;
instead of two legs she had four wheels; and rather than skin of porcelain, my
darling had skin of the finest sheet metal money could buy, vivaciously
highlighted by a rouge of racy red paint Yes, the inevitable had happened: I
had fallen in love with an inanimate object, namely, a car.
It was a summer ad, complete with the appropriate number of
tanned, bikinied Annette Funicello types in appropriately perky positions
around the too-hip machine. They all had their adoring eyes fixed upon the
blow-dried young jock, resplendent as he reclined behind the wheel with a
look on his face like he knew something about your mother that your dad
would divorce her for if he ever found it out All of that, however, was
irrelevant once I saw the car. The car! This asphalt angel was coolness
incarnate, and I had to have her.
The next day was my day off, and I couldn't get to the dealership
fast enough. I left most of my tires permanently embedded in the parking lot
as I screeched to a halt in front of the sales office, narrowly missing a large
off-road jeep display, a small Japanese economy sedan, and a medium-sized
family station wagon - complete with a medium-sized family, which rapidly
evacuated same upon witnessing my frenetic arrival. I never knew a three-
year-old was capable of jumping quite that high.
I shot out of my car and into the office with a sprint that would
have done Bruce Jenner proud. My entrance caused more than a little
consternation amongst the salespeople; *it seems that, in my haste, I had
neglected to open the office doors before entering them. Score one point for
I stood there, wild-eyed and blushing glass off my shirt Hill
can't get it all out of my hair), .when one of the more intrepid tales guys
comes over and asks, "Sir, are you all right?" The way his voice tripped ovef
the words "all right" suggested to me that it wasn't just my physical health
that he was inquiring about Nevertheless, I swiftly took control of the
situation. "Never mind about that," I rasped through clenched teeth - by this
time I really had become a madman. "Do you have the new Bogus XI 000
sports coupe by Erroneous Motors?"
"Why, er . . . yessir," he said. His voice trembled like a plate of
Jello in an earthquake. "We have one left. A red one."
"Fine. Show it to me. Now."
He led me through the new exit I had made and out onto the lot "It
really is a fine automobile," he said, trying to regain his salesman's sirs as
best as the situation would allow.
"Yeah, right," I mumbled, resisting his attempt at patron-patronizing.
I really hate how salesmen always have to butter you up for the big kill.
They do it all the time with sugary phrases like "excellent choice" and "fine
automobile." Call it a CAR, for Chrissake, and let's get on with it!
When we reached the car he made a graceful arc with his arm just like
the girls do on "The Price is Right" The snare drum in my chest turned into
a tympani as I caressed the car with my eyes and hands. The streamlined
body, radiating its redness, burned itself into my retinas. The dashboard,
with its impressive array of screens, gauges, lights, and buttons, looked as if
it was designed more for lunar landings than negotiating parking lots. The
red quilted leather seats had to have been designed by the same guy that
decorates the interiors of cheap bowling alley lounges. She was just like the
one on the billboard, only better, because the jock was nowhere to be seen.
The feeling that coursed through me was not unlike the feeling you get whea
you learn that the homecoming queen just broke up with her boyfriend,
a date for the prome, and whaddaya know, YOU'RE AVAILABLE! It
obvious that I was born to drive this car.
"The Bogus XI 000 is the epitome of automotive excellence," the
cooed. Sugary phrase number two. Do I hear three? "This is surely a car for
the discriminating motorist" This guy was a real pro.
"Here are the keys to my car," I said. "Just look it over, tell
much you'll give me for it, and LETS MAKE A DAMN DEAL!" I
like Monty Hall on a bad angel dust nip.
He saw my car, offered me a deal, and I greedily signed the
He could have asked for my mother and my first born and I wouldn't
balked. Well, maybe I'm overdramatizing. For my mother and my
born, I would have to insist mat he throw in some floor mats.
I thanked him for his help, he thanked me for not shattering any more
glass, and I drove my dream off the lot a contented soul. I was in paradise.
The car made me the object of universal envy wherever I went,
changed forever my outlook on commuting, and improved astronomically my
chances of getting a date for the weekend. It wasn't very long, however,
before there was trouble in paradise.
Driving to the convenience store to get some toothpicks (anything for
an excuse to drive), I had to swerve to avoid a head-on collision with a
motorcyclist whose goggles had collected so much mud that he was reduced
to assuming where the road was. As my beautiful car and I left the blacktop,
I pondered such wide-ranging topics as the question of why scientists had not
yet developed the goggle-sized windshield wiper, why these things always
happen to me, and approximately how many more milliseconds my mortal
soul had upon this earth. These questions were answered almost immediately
as my car came to rest in a Korean health food store. I sat there in a dazed
stupor with my lap full of bean sprouts, muttering
"...insurance... insurance.. ." My meditation was broken by a short Oriental
man in an apron, who was so traumatized by this totally uncalled-for
invasion of his shop that he was incapable of forming any words other than,
"What in the hell!" "What in the hell!" There was really only one reply I
"Do you have any toothpicks?"
I count the oil spots on the greasy overalls of the mechanic as he
paces around what was left of my car. There is no expression on his face as
he makes mental notes of the various injuries. After a few minutes he
straightens his back, takes off his Napa Parts baseball cap, scratches his bald
spot, and asks the begging question.
"What happened, son?"
"I went to buy some toothpicks and I made a wrong turn," I said,
really not wanting to recount the sordid details. I felt so ashamed standing
there that I couldn't even look the guy in the face; instead, I focused my stare
on his name stitched on the front pocket: Harvey.
"I see," Harvey said, in the condescending tone of voice that only an
expensive mechanic can have. He knew a sucker when he saw one.
"So how much do you think it'll come to?" The words felt like
cotton inside my mouth. Nobody likes to ask a question with so painful an
"Well, she's pretty banged up. But then, you already know that
because here you are."
"Sir, my admiration for your perceptive powers knows no bounds.
"Five thousand dollars," he said, as casually as if he were giving me
the time of day.
"Five thousand dollars?!!!" How in the world can ifaey quote such
gargantuan figures and not even blink? I'm convinced that these guys have to
go to school to learn this art, because it's definitely not a skill that the
layman possesses. Certainly not this layman.
"Well, you got a right front fender that's a goner. And your front
bumper looks like a cheap accordion. And it's gonna take a heap of work to
get your engine out of the back seat You know how these new cars are. So
damn hard to work on and all."
"Oh, please," I cried in mock pity, "you're breaking my heart!"
His voice took on an indignant tone. "Look, that's my price, son.
Take it or leave it."
Since it was the cheapest place I had found, and since I already owed
him for the towing service, I took it, and seriously considered mass murder as
a viable means of relieving tension. He told me to come back in two weeks,
and was even gracious enough to give me a lift to the nearest car rental
agency. I made sure to tell him that it was the very least he could do for me,
seeing as how I was about to put his kids through college.
Even though my insurance would pay for most of the damages (yes,
my policy does have a stupidity clause), I couldn't help the feeling of
depression that swept over me as I entered the rental agency. All of a sudden
this goddess behind the desk asked in a honey voice, "Sir, can I help you?"
It was her! THE woman of my dreams! It could have been my
imagination, but she looked kind of like one of the beach bunnies on the
very billboard that had gotten me into this mess in the first place. It was a
transgression I felt I could easily forgive.
"Um...uh..." What does one say to a goddess?
"Can I help you, sir?" she repeated, blinking her mesmerizing brown
"Ah. ..yes, as a matter of fact, you can. I smoothed down my hair and
discreetly made sure my fly wasn't open. "I need to rent a car while my car is
in the shop being fi- uh, customized. What's the finest automobile that you
have available? Something a discriminating motorist would appreciate?"
"Well, sir --"
"Please - call me Maximillian," I said, in my best James Bond voice.
Smooth is my middle name.
"Well, Maximillian, I have a Bogus X1000 that's not being used at
he moment Is that all right?"
"Quite." She couldn't have been more impressed. It was evident
rom the sly grin that she flashed at her co-worker next to her. In a few
ninutes I was in the driver's seat of the Bogus X1000, on my way home and
ihinking about the encounter I had just had. Was she really impressed? Or
was I just the victim of another attack of wishful thinking? I really thought
I saw something in her expression. But then again, I've seen that same
expression when I take my dates out to eat Mexican food. Oh, well. Ill find
out for sure when I go to return the car next week, because I'm gonna ask her
75uTtor the rest of her life. Maybe I ao mil in love a little too easily. 45
Connie's Place (BD, K thru 3)
Bigger bodies and more control
are what I am accustomed to -
They have learned the rules enough
To follow, if not believe.
Caution, calculation, sense of direction
But some fade into the rear wall, soundless,
To sleep through their academic dream.
To awaken, focus, and con them into
thinking are the tasks I face:
Strategy (Mapping my verbal moves) mixed
With basic choreography at the blackboard,
Chalk dust replacing greasepaint, and
hopes for a long run
(Long enough at least for Tenure).
From nine until noon I am a clown,
Prancing and dancing and howling -
Seeking a crowd that will pause and listen.
In your room I am me
There is no need for mystery
But only for one grown up man
who listens and talks and
shares what young eyes see --
In your room, I am free.
The following shaft story was written ss an assignment in
Mr. Clancy's English 20 k The object was to write a
"missing" story left out of Sherwood Anderson's
Winesburg, Ohio, imitating as closely as possible
Anderson's own techniques and style.
She sat like a dome, overlapping her small chair. When she walked,
it was slow and deliberate, as though the weight of her body might press her
to the floor. Mattie Ham had been old for a long time. Her white hair
sprang wildly from her head and her face caved in where her teeth were
missing. Her hands were dry and cracked from years of hard labor.
"My baby's gone, gone away. Hell never come home to me again,"
she said to anyone who would listen. Her youngest had gone to sea, "Hell
be back, Mama, wait and see," cooed Angel, her baby girl. "You have to
remember, he's a grown man now. He may not want to stay in Winesburg,
but hell come back to visit us. You really should open the curtains and let
some light in here."
All her life Mattie had been busy; it takes a lot of work to raise nine
children. There had been wash to do, clothes to mend, suppers to cook and
beds to make. She had worked hard to rear her children right so they wouldn't
grow up and turn to drink like their daddy. Now they were all grown and
didn't need Mattie any more. Joe, the oldest, was a preacher, Sam, the middle
boy, had gone into banking. All the girls were married now and were busy
raising their own families. Angel was the only one of them still living in
Winesburg. Mattie lived all alone in a big house still haunted by the sound
of children's laughter. Sometimes she awoke with a start, thinking she had
heard the words "Mama, Mama," coming from her bedside. Of course, there
was no one in the dark house but her.
At Christmas and Easter all the children and grandchildren would
come to visit Mattie would stay up all night cooking a ham, a turkey, and a
dozen pies. The children could never stay long; after dinner they would rise
to go. "Sorry we have to rush off, love you," they called over their
shoulders. "That's O.K., I'm tired anyway. I need a nap," Mattie always
When she was a young woman, Mattie had moved to Cleveland.
There Mattie worked in a book bindery. She lived in a boarding house with
other women her age. The young women talked and laughed more than
Mattie thought necessary. She had little to do with them. Mattie was
content to retire with one of the books from the bindery. In the pages of
those books, she could become a fairy princess or a terrible old hag.
Mattie fell in love when she was twenty-two. She had ridden the
train home from Cleveland for a visit and was waiting for her brother, Bill,
to pick her up at the railway station. She had been waiting for an hour and
was beginning to get impatient when a young man emerged from behind the
building. He was handsome and cleanshaven. The sight of Mattie seemed to
draw him. He introduced himself as Jack Ham and said he was a traveling
salesman working out of Winesburg. He offered to wait with her. Another
hour passed without her brother coming. Bill had been waylaid by a pretty
farm girl; he was in no hurry to make his escape. Jack offered to take Mattie
home. She accepted his ride and their courtship began. By winter, Jack and
Mattie were married. They setded in Winesburg; she had come home to have
his babies. The babies came, one after another, like doorsteps. Mattie was
busy changing diapers and saw less and less of Jack. He had taken to
drinking with his friends, sometimes not coming home until dawn. One cold
winter morning Sylvester West found Jack in the alley behind the drugstore
in a pool of cheap whiskey, dead. Mattie was alone with nine little children.
Mattie had centered her life around her children; now that her task was
done she didn't know what to do with herself. She spent most of her days in
bed, thinking of her life and what it had been. Mattie seldom went outside;
the apple trees she had once tended with care now grew only small twisted
fruit. Her roses had wilted and formed a border of thorns across the front of
the house. Weeds and brambles had overtaken the grass beneath her bedroom
window. Mattie no longer walked there; she was fearful of snakes.
Mattie slept in a small bedroom in the big house. The corners were
filled with dust and cobwebs that she no longer fought Alone in her
bedroom, Mattie would lie on the narrow bed that sat centered under her small
window. A thin shaft of light fell on her face. She held her hands in front of
her eyes and thought of all the work they had done scrubbing diapers and
spooning mush into babies' mouths. Mattie was afraid that she would die
alone in her bed; maybe she wouldn't be found for days, even weeks. She had
a picture in her mind of Angel finding her half-decayed body. She wouldn't
coo then. Mattie would show them, she'd show them all. Leave their Mama
all alone. That's what they deserved, a rotting corpse.
She couldn't die yet She had things to say to people. She had to tell
people that there was no love in the world, only vanities. "I know a thing or
two. I could write a book," she told herself. "No you couldn't, people
wouldn't understand. They wouldn't want to know. No one would listen to
you," she countered. Rain fell from the sky wetting the land just as Mattie's
tears wet her pillow. A grey shadow seemed to hang over the world, but
when she looked out the window, Mattie saw sunshine on the lot next door.
"I must find a way," she exclaimed. Turning, Mattie tried to grope her way
through the darkness. Who could she tell, who could she trust? George
Willard! He was the answer. He was respected, people listened to him. If he
would write what she knew, everyone would see and believe. She had to see
When Angel came on Friday to take her to Hern's for groceries,
Mattie had everything all planned She would go to the Winesburg Eagle on
the pretense of getting a paper. Once there, she would tell George Willard
everything. Pulling on her heavy black coat, she said, "Angel, that paper
boy is getting lazy. Twice this month he's thrown my paper in the ditch and
you know Tm too heavy to crawl out of there if I went in after iL If you'll
just get this list of things I need I'll stop next door and get another paper."
She handed Angel a long list that was meant to keep her busy for some time.
Once in town, Mattie hurried over to the Winesburg Eagle , Peeping
in the window, she saw George alone at his desk. Mattie hurried inside. Her
face was red and she was out of breath when George looked up and saw her.
He offered her a chair and sat down on the edge of his desk. George was
always curious about Mrs. Ham. "She has reared all those children," he
thought "She ought to know a thing or two."
Mattie seemed excited, as though she might explode if she didn't
speak. "Yes, Mrs. Ham, is there something I can do for you?" George asked
"I had to see you," she said, catching her breath. "I had to tell you."
She paused, then said, "My baby's gone, gone away." With a heavy sigh,
she stood and trudged out of the office.
IN THE OPEN
In India the farmer has his rope bed
Out in the middle of his wheat fields,
Wary of stray bullocks and thieves.
He tears down the canal wall weekly
To innundate his tilled domain.
The goshawk harries then takes a rat
After some battle. The man walls-up again.
His evening prayers are haunted
With wisps of wheat
And the goshawk's return.
In the countryside a man keeps vigil.
He breaks open the canal,
flooding his space,
helping hawks hunt His meditation is
a mandate of gusty folds,
like strains of a tugged web.
He listens at night with a single eye,
his own atonement in the breeze.
the land grows
a man appears with the seasons
sowing watering and nurturing
grain mice and birds
floating at night on his raft
the moonlit waves lap into the stars
A TOAST AND A CRUCIFIX
The envelope was small and plain; your average everyday envelope,
but it stuck out like a sore thumb. What really caught my eye was the return
address. The letter was addressed to me, Clark Weatherly, and had come all
the way from Pittsburgh from a guy named George Belkrey.
George and I attended high school together and during those four brief
years had become as close as two friends could become. We developed a
wonderful friendship which included Alan Chandler and Bob Zachary, two
other high school mates of ours, and consisted in part of a weekly weekend
ritual of laying ruin to our hometown and nearby areas. Incidently, Alan was
killed in an automobile accident about three years ago; Bob is doing time in
the state prison for embezzling from the real estate agency for which he once
worked. George and I are the only ones from our little clique who still have
the freedom to enjoy the many oddities of life. Bob had a choice; Alan,
unfortunately, didn't. So naturally, I was happy to hear from George, who
wanted me to come up to Pittsburgh and spend a few days with him
reminiscing and having a general all-around good time, doing God knows
A few days had passed since I received George's letter, and in the
meantime I had purchased a round-trip airplane ticket to Pittsburgh and
packed up the necessities for the trip. My wife and three kids drove me down
to the airport and saw me off to Pittsburgh and a weekend that promised to be
Long, dull airplane trips, like this one, are really made worthwhile
when you give yourself a chance to reminisce and frolic in your daydreams of
years gone by: all the good times, the bad times, and, every once in a while,
the dull times. Somehow they all play a part in everybody's past.
But if you're not careful, you'll start asking yourself things like "Why
couldn't this have happened?" or "Why aren't things like that now?" That's
when you have to get a grip on yourself; you want things to be like they
used to be, but they can't. Asking yourself why just wastes those wonderful
memories. That's when I had to shake my head and wake myself up and try
to just keep thinking about "the good ol' times," as they are more commonly
My friends and I had many of those "good times." But the one that
stands out in my mind the most is a warm summer night in 1970:
Slimmer was just beginning and we deckled to get together and have a
little fun. We were going to head up the coast a little ways to this small
town with a great little beach which proved to be a pretty active place.
George had purchased a bottle of whiskey and some Coke. (He later told me
that the booze was to wash down the awful taste of the Coke.) I was never a
drinker, so I almost always drove; I didn't mind it because the guys always
kept me well entertained.
When we arrived at this little tropical haven, Alan and I somehow got
separated from George and Bob, so we spent a good portion of the night just
wandering the beach looking for some excitement George and Bob had taken
the whiskey and the Coke with them, so it was a sober evening for me and
The night rolled on and Alan and I were thoroughly convinced that
there was absolutely nothing to do down there that night So we decided to
go find George and Bob and head back home. It had been a good three noon
since we had lost them , so the task was not going to be easy. "Where in me
hell do we start looking?" I asked Alan, who probably knew better than I
where to look for two effervescent young men who were probably drunk out
of their minds.
"Start at all the bars on the island. If they're not in any of those, we
better contact the Coast Guard; the idiots probably tried to swim to the
So we began our journey of good fate - in and out of every little
drink-and-die joint on the island in desperate hopes of finding our missing
comrades. The thought that they might be off in some sleazy, cockroach-
infested motel putting their very masculinity to the test did cross my mind,
but the chances of that being the case were slim to none, especially in the
physical condition they were probably in. So I said nothing, and we
continued on our little trek.
About an hour and a half later, Alan spotted Bob walking around in a
daze, as he normally did, looking like he was in search of someone or
something. Bob returned Alan's glance and started charging at us, screeching
to a halt just in front of us. "Where the hell have ya'll been? IVe been
looking all over for you for the last few hours," Bob said, the stench of
alcohol emitting from his mouth with every syllable he spoke. "Where've
we been? Where've you been?" It was then that I noticed that Bob was
missing somebody. "And where's George?"
"Just follow me," Bob replied. Famous last words.
Bob led us to the sand dunes halfway down the beach. "Okay, I
know he's somewhere around here," Bob told us.
"Somewhere around where?" Alan asked irritably.
"Somewhere around here ... on this dune. Or was it down on sixth
street?" Obviously, Bob didn't know where either George, or he, was.
I then noticed that Bob had a black eye, the bruised skin around his
eye shining in the moonlight. "What in the hell happened to you? Did you
and George get into a fight?"
TJh, no, not really."
"What happened?" Alan interrupted.
-We ran into a couple of girls and - un," Bob hesitated; he had this
look on his face as if he were ashamed of something he'd done. But that
shameful look soon turned into a sneaky little grin, a grin we had all seen
before. "I tried a little something with one of them and she took it
personally. She got ticked off, slapped my head around a couple a' times,
took off her shoe and hit me in the eye with it Those damn high heels hurt
like hell. I wasn't gonna take that crap so I told her and her friend to get
lost" All these years, I've been told that Bob was in prison for
embezzlement; I know better. He's doing time, all right, but I'm sure you
can blame it on those hormones of his.
But Alan and I got a kick out of it; not the fact that he had tried to
violate the sacred person of the poor little girl, but the fact tht he had gotten
slapped around - again. Things like that were always happening to Bob . . .
and he always deserved them. Bob was a pretty nice guy, it's just that he
somehow managed to say the wrong things at the right time - and he always
paid for it Now he's really paying for it
After Alan and I got our little kick, we started searching for our fallen
comrade. Somehow I managed to get separated from Alan and Bob. It was
getting pretty late (or early, I should say) and walking around on the beach all
by myself in the early morning hours of a summer day was not my idea of
having fun. I was beginning to get thoughts of coming back in the morning
in the hopes that daylight would assist us in finding our lost amigo, or that
the tide would wash him back ashore, if it had carried him out to sea.
Just as I was about to give up all hope of recovering George, I
stumbled over something: a large, bulky object which didn't budge when I
tripped over it. Lying on the ground, my mouth full of sand, I looked
behind me to see what it was that had tripped me up.
And there he was: an empty bottle of Jim Beam in his right hand,
seaweed in his left Somewhere in between his two hands, in the middle of
his face, was the world's most idiotic, and intoxicated, grin. He lay there
spread-eagle on top of the sand dune, as if he were about to be crucified for
the sake of mankind. George had been recovered.
Just one glance at his gloss-coated face should've told me that there
was no way that he was going to walk. But I let my exhaustion get the best
of me and tried to stand him up. I tugged at the dead weight and finally stood
him up. Trying to balance him out, I gave him a little nudge forward from
his back. Unfortunately, I gave him too much of a nudge and George went
crashing to the ground, without breaking his fall, face first. I turned him
over and there was a red pool of blood spewing from his nose. I'd broken the
poor kid's nose. I didn't feel too bad, though, because I knew he couldn't feel
it Not yet, anyway.
So we lay there: me, the sea oats, and George. Some time passed,
and George started to stir. He glanced at me with bloodshot and dilated eyes
and asked, "Clark? Clark, is that you?"
"Where the hell am I?"
"On the beach somewhere,'' I informed him.
"Oh," he replied. He hesitated and asked, "Where'd all this blood
"You broke your nose."
"Oh." This was the easiest conversation I'd ever had with anyone,
except maybe with my four-year-old.
"Jesus, I feel like I've been stepped on," the human winery said.
With that, he gave out a thunderous belch that would've made a sailor blush.
He kept sipping the air out of that empty bottle, but nothing would come
out. He was sucking the life out of that poor whiskey bottle, like an infant
with a pacifier. Frustrated and confused, he shattered the bottle into a million
tiny pieces against a nearby rock. "I can't take this crap anymore," he
declared angrily. "If I don't slow down, 111 be dead before I'm thirty-five. I
gotta slow down."
"Yeah, as soon as there's a cold day in hell," I said doubtfully.
"No, I mean it I been thinkin'. Ya' know what I'm gonna do?"
"What's that?" I challenged. This was getting pretty interesting.
"I'm gonna be --" he hesitated as he gasped for air and belched again.
"I'm gonna become a priest "
Now that was a dandy. I was totally convinced that the liquor now
had complete control of George's bodily functions.
"Then I'm gonna be Pope. Pope George. It's got a nice ring to it,
"Lovely, your holiness," I responded. George was a devout Catholic,
and it kind of shocked me to hear him say stuff like this. It bothered me, but
I realized that the guy didn't know what the hell he was saying. "And when I
become Pope I'm gonna abolish all those stupid celibacy laws. Screw
celibacy! Ha! Didja hear that? A play on words. That way, if I do that, we
priests can enjoy life a lot better. Whaddya think?"
"I think you're blitzed. C'mon, we gotta get you to a hospital. Let's
find Bob and Alan."
We found Bob and Alan a short time later. By the time we got
George to the hospital and back home, it was about four o'clock in the
morning, just in time for breakfast Looking back at it now, that was a real
memorable evening. Those were the kinds of things that George and I were
going to talk about. Somehow, though, it would be a little more enjoyable
if Alan and Bob were around. But Alan wrapped his Volkswagon Rabbit
around an oak tree just down the road from my house a few years ago. I'm
still reminded of the twisted heap of steel and shattered, splintered glass every
time I pass that tree. The police said it was an accident. I have my doubts.
They never found any skid marks. And just the week before, Alan had come
to me with something on his mind. He wasn't making much sense, so I was
unable to quite grasp what was bugging him. Whatever it was, it died with
him. I just wish I could have helped him.
I hoped my visit with George would help me clear things up and
enable me to understand them a hole better. As my plane landed in
Pittsburgh, I was becoming more and more optimistic each second. The
crowd of people exited the airplane and made its way towards the baggage
claim area. While I was waiting for my bags, I felt a hand grab my right
Moulder and heard a familiar voice call my name. I turned around and there
"Clark, how've ya' been?" he said.
"Just great, how about ~ " I stopped. There was something peculiar
about George. It was the way he was dressed. Everything he was wearing
was the same color ~ a deep, thick, midnight black. His shoes, his jacket,
his shirt, his socks, everything. Then I noticed a - a white collar, just a
little square of white at the base of his adam's apple, and a shiny silver
crucifix dangling from around his neck. George was wearing the apparel of a
Roman Catholic priest
"What the hell is this? Some sort of bad joke?" I asked.
"No, it's no joke. I told you in my letter that we had a lot to talk
"Yeah, but I didn't know you changed on me! Why didn't you tell me
in the letter?"
"If I'd done that, you wouldn't have come up here, and you know it I
thought that it would be better if I told you in person. I guess I was wrong."
"Damn right you're wrong!" I roared.
"I guess you're kind of upset"
"Upset?!" I yelled. "Of course I'm upset! Man, oh man, George.
How could - I mean ~ " I caught myself stammering in disbelief, searching
for something to say. "You didn't expect me not to be upset, did you?"
"Well . . . ," George was stammering as well. "I ... uh ... I was
hoping you would accept it I guess I was wrong."
With that, we both fell silent; not a word was said for what seemed
like an eternity. George was obviously just as upset as I was, at least I
thought so. Hell, he had to be; here I was, his best friend on the face of the
earth, and I was chastising him for a decision he'd made about his life, a
decision that I thought stunk to hell and back. This was the biggest shock of
my life. Over and over, I kept picturing George on the beach that night just
sucking the air out of that bottle. Finally, George broke the silence. "Well,
are you still agoing to stay, or are you flying back?"
I didn't know what to say at first, but I realized that if I stayed, there
might be a chance that we could clear a few things up. "Yeah, I guess I
might as well stay," I said, the reluctance showing in my voice. "It'd be a
waste of a plane ticket to just turn around and go straight back."
So we grabbed my luggage and made our way to "Father George's"
car. His car! A Chrysler K-car, the epitome of a priest's car. Not only did
George wear priests' clothes, he even had the audacity to drive around in one
of their cars. The reality was beginning to sink in.
I kept thinging back to our most memorable night and how it had
turned out to be so hauntingly prophetic. Back then, I was really convinced
that it was the booze doing all of George's talking for him, but now I was
convinced that George had known exactly what he was saying that night I
wondered if he still planned to abolish the celibacy rules when he became
Pope. Probably not The old George, maybe, but not this one. This new
George had completely ousted the old one.
And it showed in everything he did that weekend: the way he ate
breakfast, the way he read the newspaper, the television shows he watched
with the other two priests of the parish, the way he drove his car. They were
all typical of the new George, the stranger I had met in Pittsburgh. The
most exciting thing we did was go to an art museum. Yeah, the old George
was gone, all right, and I was heartbroken. First Bob gets thrown in jail,
then Alan wraps his car around an oak tree, and now George has gone and
given himself to the church. When would this madness end?
It was Sunday morning, and I was packing my junk, getting ready to
leave town, the weekend, and the guy that had drastically changed my outlook
on life. While I was packing, George came into my room. "Hey, Clark.
You got a second?"
"Yeah." I really didn't feel like talking. "Yead, I guess so."
"I think we need to talk," he said.
"What do you think? I really want to try and get things cleared up
before you go. If you go without talking about it, well probably never talk
to each other again."
"Maybe, maybe not That's just a chance we'll have to take." There
was a great deal of undisguised hostility in my voice.
"Well, I'm not going to take that chance," he replied. "I'm going to
say what I have to say. If you don't want to listen, fine. I'll feel a lot better
knowing that I at least tried. And if you think that I'm — "
"Why, George?" I blurted out "What in the hell made you do it?"
George was shocked. I don't think he expected me to ask him that,
but I had to know. "I don't know exactly," he started. "I think it was a
combination of things. Mainly because of the life I was living. All of that
drinking, all of those parties . . . They were just getting to me. I really
didn't have a future; I was flunking out of school, always getting into trouble
nith anyone and everyone. I could hear people talk about me behind my
back. They didn't know I could hear them, but I did." George was starting
to get a little misty-eyed "They'd always say stuff like There goes that kid
George Belkrey. He's never gonna amount to anything.' Stuff like that
really got to me. And you know, they were right I was getting nothing out
of life, just wasting away. I wanted to prove them wrong, but I just didn't
know how. It was like I was given this bottle of life and it -- it was -
- empty." He sniffled a litde, wiped his nose with his bare hand, and hung
his head down. I was getting a little misty-eyed myself. George looked back
up, grinned through his red eyes, and said in the old smart-ass voice that I
grew up with: "I have seeyun th' light/" He sounded just like some
backwoods faith healer. Then he forced a chuckle, to which I responded with
a chuckle of my own, and we embraced each other, symbolizing an end to our
In the weeks since I'd been back home, I hadn't been to church once.
Sure, George and I settled our differences, but I was still in a state of shock.
It was as if my entire memory of the gang's times together had been
rewritten. My views of our past together had been completely reversed, and I
was pretty damned depressed. After all, a man is entitled to a memory of
what really happened in his "glory days"; his memory shouldn't be impeded
in any way. But mine had been, and I didn't know what to do.
Then a parcel came for me. It was from George. I tore into it and
discovered a bottle of Jim Beam whiskey and a drinking mug. Taped to the
bottle of whiskey was a small note. I unfolded the note and read it:
I thought you might need this. Lord knows I
did. I've been feeling pretty crappy since you left, so I went
out and got a bottle of this stuff and got blitzed. It really
helped me readjust, and besides, it felt pretty good to do that
again after all these years. It won't happen again, though.
I know you've never been drunk before, so do it just this
once. Get shit-faced for the gang . . . just this once.
PS: Down with celibacy and don't throw up on
The old George wasn't completely dead after all.
That night, I took the whiskey, the mug, and a picture of the old
gang into my den. I asked my wife and kids to please not bother me; I said I
had a lot of work to do. I later confessed to my wife what I had done behind
that locked door. I told her about my* night-long toast to the "good old days"
and to the gang, a toast that, miraculously, helped me rediscover the past, and
reconcile myself to the way things are now. I also told my wife how J didn't
throw up once, or if I did, how I didn't remember it. Nor did I remember how
the picture came to be broken, but it was. I woke up the next morning and
stepped on some slivers of glass which had come from the shattered frame of
my old picture. I didn't think twice about dumping the frame into the
garbage, picture and all.
Moaned the woefully lonely soul
in this his most incomprehensibly & agonizingly
unique (though not extraordinary)
lifelong saga of pathological pathos
(over in less than the blink of an eye),
"Why must love be like
all at once beckoning
with its promise of
passkxiflames & poetry
because no one can ever
"Do you think Jesus or your Grandpa Sheinfeld up in heaven would
approve of what you did today during mass? Do you think your behavior
was Christian? What will your mother, the poor soul, do? We may have to
get special dispensation for you to start First Confession a year early. Are
you proud of yourself? Young man, what do you have to say for yourself?"
I thought maybe I was going through minnowpause, except that was
for ladies and a lot older, too. But I was all hot and feverish-like and my
heart was beatin so hard I thought Sr. Margarita would take to me, seeing as
I had a condition, or at least was getting one. But she didn't She just kept
lookin meaner and meaner till finally she looked just like one of those people
in the movies who saws up people like me. I thought Td have to stand there
forever like they did, with that dopey look and with my mouth bobbin like a
float on a fishin pole. I thought I was gonna pee or throw up or faint, or
maybe all three, but instead I let out a monstrous loud yell and took off
running. Well, I did pee a little.
"Patrick Shane Donovan! " Her voice got louder with every name till
she sounded like Ma, and I just kept runnin and yellin till I grabbed the
handlebar of the merry-go-round and started to pull it around behind me t
yellin the whole time. I guess I was hopin it would fly off in space with me
on it, I dunno. My hands were hot and sweaty and only the rust on the bar
was keepin them from slidin off. The rust was diggin into my hands and
stinging something fierce. I threw myself on the floor of the merry-go-round
and got sand in my mouth from between the ridges of the floor. I stopped
yellin long enough to spit and see Sr. Margarita hitch up her habit and jump
on the merry-go-round even better than Billy Bob CLeary could. She went
for me but I ducked past her and we both just sorta went flyin off, at least till
we wiped out in the sand, rollin over and over each other till I got rolled up
in her habit and thought I might drown in black polyester. I knew then that
1 shoulda left her alone, she was too much nun for me. I had gotten away
with plenty at St. Francis' Love His Little Creatures, but I should' ve left it at
tucking Sr. Mary Ignatius' habit into her drawers at the Halloween party.
They had threatened to send me to Mary Magdaline Show Them The Way - at
least that way I'd still been alive tomorrow. Sr. Margarita was unswaddling
me so as finally I could breathe. I was too wore out to try to escape her. I
just laid there and waited for her to come swoopin down on me, quotin God.
I figured she'd pick "Vengeance Is Mine" or "Suffer Little Children." I heard
a little giggle and then I heard a laugh - a big, happy laugh. I looked up and
it was Sr. Margarita. Her veil was half off and her curly black hair was wild
like mine before Ma dippity-doed it. Her eyes were crinkled up from laughin
so hard and I realized she weren't so old as most nuns, or so ugly either. I
felt real sorry I had Crazy-glued her habit to the pew, and I told her so.
"I know, honey." We giggled and she held my hand. "Come on, we
can make it to the Nativity Pageant"
Things were crazy at the stage. Angela Fulpot was throwing up like
she did every year. Sr. Mary Ignatius pushed Sr. Margarita to the control
panel and threw me my head angel hospital gown. A camel hiney bumped
around looking for its front half. Sr. Angelica put on my flying halter and
hooked the guide wire to my drawers. I worked on my holy faced in Lisa
Wolensky's shiny wings while the play started. I grinned and felt might
proud that I had been head angel 3 times, ever since first grade when Eugene
Grime was supposed to be it but his mom wouldn't let him fly. I could feel
being head angel so much was starting to rub off. Then I saw a pair of
sunglasses and I had to put them on the camel as it was going onstage. All
suddenlike it was my turn to go up, so I lifted my head up and rolled my eyes
back and stuck my arms out in my very best holy look that had made me
head angel all 3 years. Yep. I was flyin over the stage, almost to the seats
part, when I could feel the guide wire slippin and I realized my drawers
weren't near where they was meant to be. Yep - that Sr. Margarita was way
too much nun for me.
A flapjack fancier named Welsh
Had savorings he could not squelch.
Sour-cream drizzled and berried,
Marmaladed, syruped, and cherried
Those hotcakes unveiled a gourmand-
In John of flapjacks so fond
She gazes through narrow gloomy glass
panes greyed by winter sludge.
White as plastic picnic plates,
the snowflakes stack
upon barren ground into heaps,
cold clumps of pain.
Desolate and alone too,
the naked cedar stands
locked into the earth by
Flakes form and fade, like tears
beneath a pretty programmed mask.
One carefully crafted flake catches
light and melts;
squares of glass frame the picture
like a photograph.
Popcorn powder swirling softly,
Warm, white, and gossamer, they lie,
refracting prisms of gold
in mounds of hush
to breathe a fluting song.
Clouds, cold and grey, persuade
frozen flakes to cover
and seep between the stolid cracks
of windows without wills.
Angry panes shrink
to bury her inside.
A Holiday Puzzle
At the turn of the year,
as we pause to reflect
How to polish ourselves
or to patch a defect,
Does it ever occur
that some part of the blame
For all our confusion
and terrible aim
Is not ours at all?
But confirms the old rumor
That God has a rippingly
wry sense of humor.
Which could even explain
the best riddle I know:
Why a feast is so fast
when a fast is so slow!
If you are interested in working on the 1988 Calliope staff, or in
submitting work for consideration in that edition, please contact Dr.
Richard Raymond in the Department of Languages, Literature, and
Dramatic Arts, 115-D, Gamble Hall. Calliope welcomes prose, poetry,
and non-fiction work in all fields, as well as photographs and sketches.
All pieces submitted must be the work of students, staff, or faculty
members of Armstrong State College. Work should be submitted by
the end of Fall Quarter for best chance of publication. Please be sure
that your name, phone number, and address accompany each
Covzv by Mary Alston Johnson
Editors: ^ndtj Pena
Faculty ^Advisor: tiichardi Raymond
Armstrong State College
A Unit of the University System of Georgia
The editors ofjhe 1988 Calliope wish to gratefully
acknowledge the contributions of the following
individuals, who generously donated their time,
talents, and advice, without which this edition
would not have been possible.
First, our faculty advisor, Dr. Richard C. Raymond,
who expertly guided us through the harrowing process
of putting together this literary magazine. His valuable
input was indispensible in keeping the project moving
at a steady pace.
Secondly, many thanks go to Micki Lee, director of College
Communications, who was always willing to share her
computer with us as we organized the various submissions.
She unfailingly sacraficed her time and equipment so that this
edition would come to fruition. Her personal interest in our
endeavor will always be appreciated.
Last but not least, we must thank those individuals who took
the time to submit some fine poetry, prose, and artwork, which
are the heart and soul of Calliope . Our only regret is that we
had neither time nor space enough to include all that was
Again, many heart-felt thanks...
Table of Contents
A Child's Picture 12
Photo by C. Elizabeth Rodgers 13
Thoughts on Marijuana 14
Song To A Child 17
Sketch by Henry Brandt 19
Lisa's Dream 21
Photo by Shirley Annette Harrison 23
SAMUEL P. DELOACH
Abused No More 24
Sketches by Samuel P. DeLoach 25
Alabama — The Heart of Dixie? 26
Photo by C. Elizabeth Rodgers 29
No Excuses 32
BRETT A. THOMAS
Frank Shafer, Private 1 38
Photo by C. Elizabeth Rodgers 42
Friends Again 43
C. ELIZABETH RODGERS
No Escape 44
The Western Front 48
Sketch by Shirley Annette Harrison 50
Single File 51
Sudden Frost 55
PATRICIA R. KING
Bell Hill Revisited 56
SHIRLEY ANNETTE HARRISON
There It Stands 59
A Nurse's "War" 61
Photo by C. Elizabeth Rodgers 64
By: Ginger Brown
The gloom and dreariness of the bitter cold October night and the
unseasonably early snow which blanketed Winesburg was felt by no
one as fiercly as Emily Johnson. The numbing cold and the tiresome
journey from the Johnsons' farm had dulled her senses and depleted
her frail body of warmth and energy. The burdening weight of her
weather-beaten coat and the anguish of her evening's journey made
her desire to lie down on the carpet of glistening whiteness and sleep.
But, the shrill whistle of a speeding freight train awakened her senses
and mustered the remainder of her energy. With her frayed satchel in
hand, she bravely strove onward to her destination — the depot.
Each step was painfully necessary; the propelling force which
thrust the petite traveler onward through the freezing darkness was
escapement. As she trudged along, Emily pondered her predica-
ment. She knew she had no choice but to run away from home and
to seek passage on the morning train. It would deliver her safely from
Winesburg and from the clutches of her father's sporadic fits of
drunken rage. She had no particular destination in mind and knew
not what awaited her. She only knew that she must get away from
her Poppa Luke's drinking sprees and his half insane fits of temper.
This night, he had struck her badly with his heavy stick.
Her father, Luther Johnson, raised her from infancy to her present
age of fifteen. She was his only child, and his only living relative.
After Emily's birth, which claimed the life of her mother, her father's
grief gradually turned to embitterment. Fate had deprived him of his
loving wife and had burdened him with the responsibility of an
unwanted child. Therefore, he often turned to the habit of drowning
his disillusionments with large quantities of whiskey.
Luther Johnson was a huge man who bore the distinct characteris-
tics of a backwoodsman. He wore a dilapidated buckskin jacket
which reminded him of better times and places. Although he farmed
the land for a living, his soul yearned to be back hunting and trapping
in the forest. It was a hunting accident which had rendered him
partially lame and necessitated the use of a heavy walking stick. His
interior was just as rough and unpolished as his exterior. No one
knew whether it was the pain from his accident, or the pain of his
grief, which had permanently twisted his mouth into a snarl.
On rare occasions, only when necessity prompted, Luther and his
young daughter came into Winesburg for supplies. The folks in the
town avoided conversation with the old farmer, for he was unfriendly
to the point of being rude. There was no doubt in anyone's mind that
Luther preferred the solitude of his farm to that of the noisy city.
However, everyone felt compassion for his dark haired lovely
daughter who sat dutifully at his side on the wagon seat and who
walked obligatorily in his shadow through the streets of town. She
would glance up at everyone who passed, as if searching for some-
one or something. Her large dark eyes, which reflected an inner
loneliness, sparkled shyly from behind the long fringes of her
straggly bangs — much like a prisoner peering at the outside world
through the bars of a jail cell.
The hour was getting late; it was past nine o'clock as Emily
reached the outskirts of town. She treaded softly over the slushy
grooves embedded in the ice-covered dirt road at the intersection of
Buckeye and Main streets. After such a long and horrendous hike,
Emily was totally numb from the cold and weary to the point of
exhaustion. As she passed the office of the Winesburg Eagle, she
barely observed the glow of light from the printshop's window which
illuminated her path through the street. Nor did she notice the
newswriter sitting inside the office, busy at his task of writing a late
story for the next edition. She trudged slowly down Main Street
toward the depot where she hoped to find shelter and wait out the
night. However, as she passed Hern's Grocery, she halted suddenly
in her tracks and stood perfectly still — not from the cold, but from
fright. Up ahead, she made out a large figure of a lame man moving
steadily in her direction. He carried a large stick in one hand and a
lantern in the other. "Poppa Luke! Oh God, no," she gasped. She
managed a shrill scream which momentarily pierced the quietness of
the night, but which was followed by silence again as the traveler
fainted and fall to the icy ground.
Deserting his night watchman's duties, Hop Higgins hobbled over
and bent down to turn his lantern to reveal the girl's pale face.
George Willard ran out of the printshop so quickly that he forgot his
overcoat. Shivering from the sudden coldness, George gently lifted
the girl up into the curve of his arm. "What in blue thunder is a young
girl doing out on a night such as this? Isn't she old Johnson's kid?
Why did she scream like that?" Hop Higgins demanded. Ignoring the
endless barrage of questions, George told him, "Go get Dr. Reefy
and tell him to come quickly to the hotel. I'm taking her there now;
this girl is quite ill."
Carrying the girl's limp body in his arms, George Willard threw
open the front door to the New Willard House. The sleepy-eyed
"night clerk," alarmed by the sudden rush, sprang from his chair.
George instructed the boy to fetch clean linens and prepare the bed in
the now-vacant room which had once belonged to his mother,
Elizabeth Willard. George remembered that Aunt Elizabeth Swift had
stripped the bed when the room had been closed off after his
mother's passing. It was a comfortable room in a quiet corner of the
house, and her comfort and recovery was foremost on his mind.
As the early morning sun broke through the gray horizon, the tired
doctor emerged from the sick girl's room. Anxious to learn of the girl's
condition, George waited patiently in the hallway. He and Dr. Reefy
stood and talked together just outside the room. This time, the
prognosis was good. Dr. Reefy told George, "She's awake now but
still weak. She's got to stay put for a while. I've given her medication
to speed her recovery right along, and Mrs. Swift says he will stay and
tend her until her strength returns. You did right in bringing her
straight here, George. Much longer out in that weather — well, who
knows what her condition might have been. She could have died out
there. By the way, George, in case you didn't recognize her, her
name is Emily Johnson. She wants to thank you for your kindness."
Later that same day, an exhausted George Willard decided to look
in on the patient. He knocked lightly on the door; Aunt Elizabeth Swift
greeted him and led him over to where the frail girl sat in a chair by
the window. The evening sun cast a pale glow over the motionless
figure. A pillow was propped under her head, and her long dark hair
draped over the edge. Her delicate hands lay folded in her lap as if in
prayer. "We've been watching the snow starting to fall again. Looks
like we might be in for a bng winter," Aunt Elizabeth said softly. As
for Emily, she was unaware of George's visit — she had dozed off
into a peaceful sleep.
George stood for a moment and looked out the window. Darkness
was descending rapidly upon Winesburg, and off in the distance he
heard the faint wailing whistle of the departing evening train. A queer
feeling of urgency swept over him as if he needed to take off running
through the fresh snow.
A CHILD'S PICTURE
as a mother stands
at the sink
beside a brown
with a girl
who has yellow
the setting orange
THOUGHTS ON MARIJUANA
By: Katie Hill
I had my first experience with marijuana at the age of five. The year
was 1970, so the Time of Troubles was going full swing, and my brother,
Kirk, a high school senior, had invited his friend Bill to visit our family
during a short leave from the Army.
Our guest arrived bearing gifts for everyone; mine was a tiny heart
of faux pearls suspended from a slender gold chain. Even though Bill
had hung around our house for several years before graduating and
getting drafted, the necklace really opened my eyes — I had fallen in
love before he had even managed to lug his dirty, bulging duffel bag up
the stairs to Kirk's room. From then on, I clung to Bill's heels like a
squishy piece of bubble gum.
That first day, Kirk, Bill, and I worked on cars, ate at Hardee's with
all their old friends, then took in the latest James Bond picture at the
drive-in. Bill actually seemed glad to have me along. He let me sit in his
lap, insisted on buying my popcorn, and even fixed my pigtail ribbons
when they came untied. Best of all, he called me "Hell on Wheels",
which I knew had to be a tremendous compliment because of the way
everyone laughed and agreed with him. I had never been so happy in
my life, and I imagined that this was how things would be all the time
after Bill and I were married.
The next morning, worn out from the previous day's adventures, I
overslept and wound up washing clothes with Mama instead of going to
Road Atlanta with Kirk and Bill. I was absolutely desolate about it until
my mother announced her intention of washing "every article in that
filthy, old duffel bag." Here was my chance to perform my first act as
Bill's future wife!
Between the two of us, Mama and I were able to tug, shove, and roll
the bag containing all Bill's earthly belongings down the stairs and into
the laundry room. I burned my palms trying to pull open the rope ties
that bound the end to the duffel bag before finally sitting down on the
floor and reaching into the small hole to reverently clutch Bill's shirts,
socks, pants, and T-shirts and hand them carefully, one at a time, to
Mama so she could put them in the washing machine. The last thing in
the bottom of the bag was a nasty, dirt-encrusted pair of dark blue
denim overalls. Mama helped me yank them out and made an awful
face as she stuffed the smelly things in the washer. She threw in three
tablets of Salvo detergent, half a box of Arm and Hammer, and sprayed
in some Lysol, then turned on the warm water and closed the lid. I
meant to stay in the laundry room and stand guard, but she coaxed me
away with a trip to the grocery store.
We returned home and hour later to find the laundry room, kitchen,
and den an inch deep in soapy water. Mama turned off to washing
machine, and we went to work, mopping and sopping up the mess.
When Daddy got home, he checked out the washer and decided
the drain had somehow stopped up, forcing all the water to leak out of
the machine. He put on some old clothes and prepared to clean out
the drain and try to figure out what Mama and I had done to tear up the
thing. I sat on the dryer, banging my heels against the sides as I
waited to see what had happened, and Mama stood on her toes to peer
over Daddy's shoulder.
For a minute, we were all puzzled by the wads of gunk Daddy
dumped out of the piece of hose he had disconnected. I thought it
looked like wet catnip or maybe used chewing tobacco. Mama said,
"That Bill is such a dirty boy! He must have rolled in freshly mown-
grass! I'll bet all this stuff came out of those old overalls of his!"
Daddy opened his mouth to say something but was cut off by Kirk's
None of us had heard my brother come in through the kitchen door,
so intent were we upon the washing machine's revelation. He leaned
against the frame of the laundry room door, looking pale, clammy, and
Mama turned around and began a sermon about how unsanitary
Bill had been to carry all that grass about for days and days. My
brother looked sicker and sicker and finally interrupted quietly, "Mama,
don't you know you just washed a fortune worth of Columbian?"
"Columbian what?" Mama and I asked in unison.
Daddy, silent until then, spat out the word as if the very letters of it
were poison. "Pot."
Mama's face fell, and she walked out of the laundry room without a
word, being careful not to touch Kirk as she passed through the door.
Daddy sent me to the yard to play, and for once, I didn't mind going.
The tension in that room was more than I could stand.
I sat on my trampoline and did some serious thinking. I knew all
about marijuana. My best friend's teenaged brother had been hauled
off to reform school for repeated drug possession, and none of us kids
had been sorry to see him go. I tried to equate cruddy, mean Joey with
my kind, handsome Bill but just couldn't make the connection. I realize
now that for the first time in my life, someone I loved and trusted had
disappointed me. I thought at the time that the feeling I had was as bad
as when my pet mouse, Orville, had died. Now I know it was worse.
After what seemed like hours but was probably only 20 or 30
minutes, I heard Daddy's car back down our steep driveway. I went
inside, grabbed my dog by the collar, and took him up to my room to
snuggle. As I passed Kirk's closed door, I heard low voices, his and
Mama's, but felt too tired to eavesdrop. I curled up on my bed and
scratched Charlie's ears until we both fell asleep.
The next thing I knew, Kirk was sitting on the edge of my bed,
shaking me awake. He told me supper was almost ready, and when I
asked if he and Bill would be eating with us, he said, "Bill's gone. Daddy
took him to the bus station and bought him a ticket back to the Army
"Will Daddy ever let him come back?" I asked, seeing my wedding
plans go down the drain.
"Daddy says he's welcome here as soon as he decides to straighten
I was sure my heart was breaking in two, but Kirk didn't seem to
notice. He stared out the window for a few minutes, then said, "Katie,
the pot wasn't mine, any of it. I suspected Bill had it, but I didn't smoke
it. Do you believe me?"
"Yes," I said honestly. Kirk had never lied to me, so it didn't enter
my mind to doubt him.
"Thanks. I just hope Mama and Daddy believe me. They say they
do, but I'll never know if maybe, just maybe, they're wondering if I lied.
Katie, I did try it once, last year. Let's say I tried it once for both of us.
Please don't ever feel like you need to. You won't be missing anything."
"Okay," I said quickly, hoping Kirk would leave me alone to wallow
in grief over my shattered romance.
He seemed to sense that I wasn't really paying attention and
pressed, "Katie, promise?"
That word caught my interest immediately. Promises were serious
business. "Yes, I promise," I vowed solemnly.
Kirk hugged me and went downstairs. After I got out of bed and
brushed my hair for supper, I unfastened the heart necklace and placed
it gently in the bottom of my jewelry box.
I got over Bill within the week and found a cute little boy at kinder-
garten to marry. But I never got over seeing Mama sweep her skirt
aside as she walked past her own son in the laundry room that day. I
can't recall having ever been the least bit tempted to break my promise
SONG TO A CHILD
Child, before me, you yearned a
Of soaring violins when your ear had
yet to reach
The tutelage of tubas and the clasps of
You perked toward the jangling
jewelery of crickets,
Mouthed the cicada's kazoo, threshed
the golden scales
Of moon-leaves and inched your hand
You made a treat the sweet chande-
liers of branches,
Hurled plinkers for their boing on the
steel of ponds,
And wearing your rosey rapture,
thawed with the genius
Of turned logs in the hearth. When the
new moon appeared,
You hung your sighs upon its sharp-
All gone, you said.
Am I the burst of sparks
In his eyes, as once daydreamed,
Or a shadow, unlike his mould,
Which ran from clouds? Stumbling
And bruising, or merely distant,
I embraced him, stroked his hair,
Smoothed his brow as little as I dared.
Yet, warbling trails the clinking spoon as I
Fetching the paper off the lawn, my heel-
walk on the stiff
And crackling frost tickles you to high-
Inside, the shivering this hard man shrugs
makes you writhe
And weep with pain. My remembering eyes
fight me to answer you.
Let our love be now as it should be, not as it
Dwell with me, child, and be my flow against
Extend with violins into my fingers, into my
Be the light of my whole life, and I shall sing
Of dawns and branches spilt from the beak
of a golden eagle.
carried to the
I dismounted my horse and tied the silver mare to a tall slender pine that
stretched out toward infinity. Continuing my journey on foot, I followed the worn
path to the glen where I hoped to find what I sought. The ground crackled as my
tread broke the dead limbs and needles carpeting the forest floor. Stepping into
the glen felt like walking into a Roman arena, only I was facing an unknown
opponent. Making my way into the center of the glen, I fought back the urge to
tip my hat to some unseen presence — my enigmatic opponent and the host of
The wagon stood in the center of the glen; perhaps this was my opponent.
The faded maroon top contrasted with the vibrant green of the grass and the
backing of the bottle green of the pines. Hesitating at the bottom of the weather-
beaten steps, I ran my eyes over the gypsy wagon for a closer look. Plastered
against the sides, handpainted signs announced the occupant's profession as
fortune telling. While glinting bits of gold in the spokes, the wooden wheels still
held the wagon firmly despite their rotting wood.
Gingerly picking my way up the steps, which surprisingly didn't creak, I
grasped the cold brass door knob. While hovering for a moment, I summoned
enough courage to turn the knob. The splintered door gave way with a groan of
protest. When I stepped into the entrance, I met with a spicy exotic aroma
reminiscent of sandlewood. Moving into the candlelit center, I studied my
surroundings. Blood-red velvet curtains covered all the walls. Under my feet was
a magnificent red and black Persian rug. Scattered across the floor, large silk
pillows served as the only furniture, except for the low mahogany table which
glowed a reddish hue in the candlelight. On the table sat a pile of oversized cards;
hopefully what I sought would be found in these.
Emerging from behind the drapes, the gypsy sauntered towards the table.
After lowering herself onto a royal purple pillow, she gestured to the emerald
pillow opposite her. Her jasmine perfume cutthroughthe sandlewood like aknife.
She then spoke to me in a low, heavy voice. I strained my ears to decipher her
words, which masked themselves in a Slavic accent. I replied to her question by
saying, "I come here to you seeking knowledge of my future." The gypsy's heavily
lidded eyes smoldered as she sat and pondered my answer. "The future is not
always pleasant, as I expect you know," she said. "The future should not always
be known to those it involves." I nodded but remained adamant in my request.
Languidly, the gypsy reached out her hand and with her carnelian-tipped
fingers turned over the first card from the tarot. The first card laid over the King
of Swords, my court card, was the tray of wands while the Page of Swords
crossed me. The Fool showed my past and the deuce of cups brought forth my
future. And thus went the rest of the Keltic layout. I noticed that with each card
the gypsy laid out, the fog, which first entered the wagon with the laying out of my
court card, grewthicker so as to obscure the wagon leaving only the gypsy visible.
By the time she drew the seventh card, the Ace of Pentacles, the only discernible
part of the gypsy was her tapered, red-tipped fingers. Anxiously I waited for the
turning of the tenth card, the final outcome, but I could no longer see the wagon
the gypsy, her hand, or even the cards. With a gust of wind, the fog was lifted up
to the pines surrounding the glen. I found myself standing in the center of the glen
alone. Since I no longer fought the urge to tip my hat to the opponent, I did. And
in doing so, I paid homage to the victor: "Ave Fate morituri te salutant."
■ ; . ■ •
ABUSED NO MORE
Tommy sits in a corner
As tears flow from his eyes
The pain and hurt he is feeling
Could never be disguised
He wonders to himself
Could he really be that bad
And why over such simple things
Does his mother get so mad
Yet he knows she must love him
For at times she is so tender and kind
But in a moment she can change
And lash out with a fury that's blind
Tonight was one of those nights
He doesn't remember what he did or said
And although at four he's just begun to live
At times like this he wishes he were dead
He reaches up with bruised fingers
To touch a swollen eye
While nearby his mother cries
For she too wonders why
Thinking back she remembers
She can hear her father yell
Did it begin with him
This living chain of hell
No matter, for now the chain is broken
Little Tommy will cry no more
For God has called him home
As painlessly bruised fingers hit the floor
Samuel P. DeLoach
* x —
<r **-' L T" •''V- -.'
"^ ^ t * *
ffA?t p <
ALABAMA -- THE HEART OF DIXIE?
By: Katie Hill
Do you think of the title "Miss 'Possum Queen" as pure fiction, in the
tradition of "The Beverly Hillbillies'" Elly Mae Clampett? So did I, until my
first trip to southeast Alabama.
It all started when Traci Cunningham, a friend from junior college,
asked me to help her move from Macon back home to Headland, Ala-
bama. She wanted me to meet her family, good farm people who she was
sure would greet me like a long-lost cousin, and to attend the International
Peanut Festival, held annually in Dothan and rivalled only by the Mardi
Gras in New Orleans. I thought it all sounded like great fun and couldn't
wait to go, especially after Traci informed me that she herself had once
been second runner-up to Miss Headland in the Peanut Festival Beauty
Pageant, and knew personally all the big-name, local beauty queens.
We drove into Headland on a perfect, crisp autumn afternoon, but
unfortunately, I missed my first sight of the town because I sneezed. No
matter, we didn't have time to sightsee, anyway. We had to get straight
over to the family's farm so Traci's grandparents could extend to me their
own, special brand of genteel Southern hospitality.
After driving for miles down a rural highway surrounded by acres of
peanut and soybean fields, we pulled into a potholed, dirt driveway and
parked next to a ramshackle, outhouse-type structure which turned out to
be the Cunninghams' barn. We stepped through the weeds in the front
yard, dodging a garden of goat droppings and rusted farming implements,
picked our way around the fresh tobacco juice splatters on the shaky,
wooden front steps, and knocked on the torn screen door that hung from
When Grandma Cunningham opened the door to welcome us, I thought
immediately of a TV star — Vicki Lawrence's "Mama" character on "The
Carol Burnett Show." She hugged us both in her hamhock arms, pressing
us into her immense polyester bosom, and apologized for Grandpa
Cunningham's inability to greet us just then. She said he was sleeping,
but as we followed her lumbering figure through the living room into the
kitchen, and I caught a glimpse (and a whiff) of the shriveled, toothless,
and very still body sprawled on the plastic covered couch, I had to resist
an urge to hold my compact in front of Grandpa Cunningham's mouth and
see if the mirror would fog.
In the kitchen, Grandma Cunningham handed us both jelly jars of iced
tea and invited us to seat ourselves at the vinyl and linoleum dinette set.
She proudly showed me the letter she and Grandpa Cunningham had
received on their fiftieth wedding anniversary. It was a form letter from
President and Mrs. Reagan and had been framed and hung on the wall
under a small American flag. Things were going nicely, especially after
Traci told her grandmother that I was an ardent Reagan supporter, but
then, during a lull in the conversation, the old lady's sharp glance fastened
upon the tiny crucifix around my neck.
"Whut's thet?" she asked Traci suspiciously, narrowing her eyes and
poking her chubby, gnarled forefinger in my general direction.
"It's a cross, Grandma," Traci answered nervously.
"Oh no, it ain't!" Grandma Cunningham replied. "She a Cathlik?"
Traci looked helplessly at me, and I cleared my throat and spoke up.
After glaring accusingly at me as if she had just caught me stealing her
chickens, this paragon of Southern Christianity heaved herself up from her
chair, emptied her glass into the sink, and declared, "Well, I reckon thar's
a place fer you people somewhar in this world. Traci, you be careful
drivin' back to town and call us if you need anythin'. Y'all can show
yerselves out, cain't you?"
Our hostess continued to face the wall behind the sink, leaving us to
depart hastily via the kitchen door and make our way through the squawk-
ing chickens that flapped around Traci's car.
During the awkward return trip to Headland, Traci acted as if nothing
had happened, and I joined in the masquerade, trying to appear animated
as she described the fun we would have the nect day at the Peanut
Parade in Dothan.
At Traci's garage apartment, rented from the local Baptist minister, I
helped her unload and said a silent prayer of thanks that her landlord
wasn't home. I did not think I could stand any more Inquisition-style
Standing on the main street in Dothan the following morning, I chided
myself for having made a snap judgement about Traci's family and friends
based on one bad experience. The people who had lined up with us to
see the parade were nothing if not friendly and charming. The mothers of
Traci's school chums, most of whom were busy getting ready to ride on
the floats, clustered around us, welcoming the "sweet little Cunningham
girl and her little friend."
The ladies shared the latest news about their darling daughters —
which beauty contests they had won, whose sons they were "practically
engaged to," and what dresses they had chosen from the Sears catalog
for the auspicious occasion of being hauled through the center of town on
flower-laden floats behind the leading citizens' pick-up trucks. Traci
responded graciously and enthusiastically to all this information, but I
could see by the wistful look in her eyes that she would have given
anything to have competed tooth and nail against her oldest friends for the
title of "Miss Peanut Queen," and for the hard-won attention of the girls'
beaux, as well.
A hush fell over the crowd, as the mayor of Dothan led off the parade in
his white Cadillac convertible. Next came the district legislators and
prominent businessmen in cars of slightly lesser value. The senior
citizens' church groups travelled in custom vans — Baptists first, of
course, and the older members of the local black churches brought up the
rear in a battered, old school bus. When I inquired of one of the ladies as
to why this was so, she haughtily informed me that "the colored people like
it this way."
After a brief pause in the festivities, a ripple of anticipation spread
through the crowd. Traci's eyes shone as she turned to me and whis-
pered, "Here it comes! Here it comes!"
Try to imagine my excitement when a huge cement mixer rounded the
corner at the end of the street and roared through the middle of town,
churning and spraying out a shower of peanuts! Children, their parents
and grandparents, all dressed in their Sunday clothes, scurried into the
street and pounced with greedy delight upon the peanuts, immediately
gobbling what they could and shoving the rest into suit pockets and shiny
patent-leather handbags. I managed to restrain myself and waited for
everyone to calm down and return to the sidewalk so the parade could
The rest of the afternoon passed in a blur of frilly pink taffeta dresses,
sugary smiles, and bleached, shellacked hairdos. The townspeople had
elected a separate court of royalty to represent each of the region's cash
crops, and I watched in utter astonishment as "Miss Peanut Queen,"
"Young Miss Peanut Queen," "Junior Miss Peanut Queen," "Little Miss
Peanut Queen," and "Tiny Little Miss Peanut Queen" waved to me from
the peanut-shaped dais of their float. Seated at the feet of "Miss Peanut
Queen," the sole black girl on the platform wore a banner proclaiming her
"Miss Mahogany Peanut Queen." I didn't bother to ask why the young
lady had competed for a separate title; I felt sure she liked it that way. The
soybean, cotton, tobacco, and tomato floats followed, and after them, I lost
track. But yes, there was a "Miss 'Possum Queen." He turned out to be a
local fertilizer salesman.
Traci and I stayed until the very end of the parade, and as I watched
her run across the pavement, gathering in her skirt leftover peanuts that
hadn't been squashed by the trucks and floats, I vowed I would never,
ever make fun of Macon's Cherry Blossom Festival again.
Three guys went cruisin' around
On a hot May Friday night.
Only a few days 'til graduation,
Their futures were looking bright.
They were driving back from a party,
Held for the graduating class,
To have one last good time together,
To look back on the years gone past.
For his graduation present,
One boy had gotten a new car.
They decided to see how fast it would
Well, they didn't get too far.
They got up to one hundred twenty,
They were really going fast.
How could they know this one quick
Was going to be their last?
Rounding a curve they lost control
Hit another car and spun around.
One boy flew through the windshield,
And was dead when he hit the
The other boys were saved
By some strangers no one knew,
Who pulled them from the flaming car
Seconds before it blew.
Minutes after the accident,
Hundreds of kids arrived,
Shocked at what had happened,
Wondering who had survived.
One boy is in a coma now,
Another boy is dead,
The other barely made it out alive,
Just because no one looked
The news has spread fast among
And graduation is almost here.
They're just beginning to realize,
Those boys won't graduate this
By: Kathy Albertson
A person needs a certain amount of skill to angle his way through
Gamble Hall at twenty minutes after the hour. No orderly method of
walking down the corridor is possible, and those leaving class appear
to have the advantage. What exists can only be called chaos.
As I try fighting my way to Room 107, 1 feel like a swimmer going
against the current. Every student leaving class has aligned shoulder-
to-shoulder, creating a solid, out-going flow which allows no path for
forward motions. After "Excuse me" fails to create an opening, I
become the aggressor. I lead with my right shoulder and manage to
gain a few steps but, directly in front of me, an immovable twosome
leans against the wall. As they discuss their next rendezvous, I quickly
shift my weight to my left shoulder and dodge around them without
Another quick shift back to the right and I find myself with a little
space to move in. I've made it as far as the Writing Center. At this
point, movement becomes quite difficult because the side entrance
across the way has more people coming inside. Now the intersecting
and merging comes from three directions.
Students coming in through the side entrance can turn right and
merge with the people leaving Gamble Hall, or they can somehow
cross through the out-going flow and join the few heading against the
stronger current. (I've never seen the majority of students going to
class; they're always leaving.)
This junction infuriates me. The incoming people have always
been the ones forced out of their way, but I've found a way to alter this
phenomenon. I have given up my polite aggressiveness and just push
through without moving around anybody. I don't look at anyone; I just
direct my gaze on 107's door and walk straight ahead. Something in
the concentrated stare emits a signal that I'm in control. At times I feel
guilty for my rude behavior, but most of the time the need for getting to
class overcomes the need for etiquette.
Welcome chirping bird.
Ceres' daughter has returned.
Are you rejoicing?
Daughter of Harvest:
Entwine your hair with blossoms,
Dance beneath the Sun.
Winds begin to blow,
The burnished leaves have fallen.
Proserpine has gone.
Back on her cold throne,
The queen of the underworld
Leaves the earth to grieve.
By: Stacy Hooks
So this is the place.
I volunteered to deliver the Christmas cookies and presents from
the church. Now, I wish I hadn't.
Some call this a mental hospital, some call it a funny farm. The
building itself looks to have a mentality of its own, but it's not funny. It
looks alive. It's just ... an IT.
I'd better get this over with.
A single eye centered in the steel door sees me approaching, and
as I reach the steps a static voice demands my name. I cooperate, and
after a pause IT inhales and the door swings open — am I being sucked
Stepping inside, I smell the mildew growing on IPs bricks.
The air inside looks green, just a reflection from the green walls, I
think. But I can smell the green, too.
An old lady wearing a dingy lab coat sits at a metal reception desk.
Snarling at the packages she must search, she ushers me through
another Cyclops door, and as I hear the steel slam, I sympathize with
Jonah for his stay in the whale's belly.
IT'S belly is large and rectangular, about the size of a standard
basketball court. The air and the walls in here are green, too; I still
smell the green. The ceiling is dirty. The floor is bone gray, with a film
of dust lying on top. I think the dust is really that powdery stuff that
institutional wax leaves when the floor isn't buffed. The narrow windows
are like gills, allowing only a touch of light. Three of the five ceiling
lights don't have bulbs.
There isn't much furniture, just a few tired chairs and card tables.
Some shallow boxes on the card tables provide the only color in IT.
Waiting for a white coat to come and tell me what I'm supposed to do, I
walk over to the tables and shuffle through what I now see are jigsaw
puzzle boxes. They're all empty.
The attendant's station is also empty. I see just one patient, a
young man who squats in a corner, hugs his knees, and stares at
nothing. The dusty stuff is all over his pants.
A housekeeper rearranging IPs dust sweeps around the solitary
A commode gargles, then an attendant emerges from behind a
door. As he beats on the counter of the attendant's station with a
spoon, patients trickle from little pores in the walls that I hadn't noticed
before. Must be their bedrooms. I wonder, which one is the padded
The attendant tells me that as soon as my packages are
searched, I can leave; he suggests that I mingle with the patients in the
meantime. But I'm scared to mingle — what if some new attendant
comes on duty and doesn't believe I'm a visitor and makes me stay?
The patients don't care that I'm not mingling. They're waiting in
line for their turn at the electric cigarette lighter protruding from IPs
wall, as if in some sinister group-mating ritual with their captor.
They are quiet, dull. Maybe there's something in this heavy green
air that silences them; no, must be the drugs they're fed. But I don't
want to talk either; I can't. This kindred muteness — is it contagious?
Still silent, I merely nod when the attendant tells me that the pack-
ages are fine and that I can leave if I'm ready. I don't know how long
I've been here. Suddenly afraid he'll think I'm crazy and make me stay
if I don't say anything, I thank him, but for what I don't know.
As IT exhales and the doors swing open, the captives watch my
escape with envy and resentment; IT has opened not for them, but for
Outside, I hurry away, afraid that if I stop even for one quick
breath of real, living air, IT will have second thoughts and suck me
I feel safer in my car, and pulling onto the highway, I roll the
windows down and breathe deeply to purge my lings of the green air.
Breathing easier now, I feel no more fear of IT or concern for the
captives I left behind, just selfish relief at the sight of IT shrinking in my
Study (with dark corners
Stands in anticipation
For the Annunciation
(delivered to the steady
beat of man time)
and Birth will occur
At this desk
(with thin fierce blade of
the only illumination)
And on that sheet of
now plain typewriter
Birth: theory, (or is it vice-
versa? both in any case prelude to system)
Bara: creato ex nihilo. 1 From
nothing but the calculation of
Theoria no more: no observers
to the mysteries.
No mysteries now: flashlights slice
beyond uncertain glow of torches,
Showing all that is matters. (Subject:
matter.) Dust, dirt, mud, tested
and predicted, we turn to other
Light bends, twists, returns to
We dissect flashlight-holding fingers:
Blinded by our
We lay out the straw
1 On the difficulties of this reading of the Hebrew, see Robert Sacks, "The
Lion and the Ass: A Commentary on The Book of Genesis ." Interpretation VIII / 2,3
(May 1980), pp. 32-34, A.E. Speiser, Genesis (New York,1964), pp. 12-13, and
Henry J. Flanders, Robert W. Crapps, and David A. Smith, People of the Covenant:
An Introduction to the Old Testament (New York, 1963), pp. 51-55.
FRANK SHAFER, PRIVATE I
by: Brett A. Thomas
I was being shot at. I'd been a private investigator for three years now,
and this was my first shootout. I'm surprised it took as long to occur as it
did. That's the story of my life. You see, someone is always throwing
something at me. My wife throws pots. My mother threw insults. My
school-mates threw rocks. And Joe over there was throwing bullets. I must
be some kind of magnet for missiles. If we ever get in a nuclear war I'm
sure I'll be at ground zero.
Anyway, back to my story. I said this was my first shootout as a P. I., but I
was really kind of stretching things. You see, this one was sort of my fault. I
was having a few drinks with Joe over there, and we were joking around. I
must have said something to get him mad, because suddenly he was
swinging at me. Being the nice guy that I am, I backed off, since I knew he
was drunk. Next thing I know, he pulls out a .45 and starts shooting at me!
Naturally, I dove for cover and drew my gun. Problem is, Joe and I are
drinking buddies, and I didn't really want to kill him, or even hurt him.
Thankfully, he was so blasted that the safest place to be was in his sights.
As I peeked around the crate he was hiding behind, I saw Joe take aim
carefully this time. His hand shook at the last moment, and the bullet
impacted in the side of a wall fifteen feet from my head. Suddenly, Joe
came up with a new idea, and got up. Moving unsteadily in my direction, he
pointed his pistol towards my hiding place. Of course, no one, not even Joe
at his drunkest, could miss me from the range he was about to reach, so I
reluctantly pointed my revolver in his general direction. Taking careful aim, I
put a round in the ground at his feet, and Joe, who still had a little sense,
quickly scampered for cover.
I breathed a little easier when I heard sirens in the distance, and sighed
in relief when a police car pulled up. Two officers leaped out, guns drawn,
and pointed them at us.
"Throw down your weapons and come out with your hands up, scum-
bags!" cried one of the cops. I didn't much care for the "scumbag" bit, but
then I didn't much care to be blown away, either. I tossed my pistol out into
the alley and, hands raised, slowly stood up. Joe, the drunken idiot, yelled
with joy, and emptied a clip in my direction. His shots went so wide, though,
that the police thought they were being shot at, and emptied their guns in
Joe's direction. To be honest, they weren't much better shots than Joe, and
so all twelve rounds missed. Thankfully, Joe got the point and emerged
from behind his crate. Naturally, both of us were arrested for disturbing the
peace, public drunkenness, discharging a firearm within city limits, at-
tempted murder, vandalism, and tresspassing. It was going to be a long
The next morning, my wife came and picked me up after a night in jail. I
had been exonerated on all charges, but Joe was going to have a hard time
of it. From the look on my wife's face, I was fairly sure that I was too, and
the lecture began as I got in the car.
"What were you doing in that awful part of town, anyway, Frank?" she
"Well, dear, I was doing some — " I began.
"And with such horrible company! That Joe Astwitch is such a terrible
Actually, Joe isn't that bad a guy ; he just can't hold his booze. I was
going to point this out, but I never got a chance.
"Shooting ! " she screeched. "You're lucky you weren't killed!"
"You have disgraced our name for generations to come!" she wailed.
There was obviously no stopping her, and I was completely unsuccessful in
doing so for several hours, until she finally shut up because her voice gave
I was thankful for the silence, but it didn't last long. I was sitting there,
quietly watching the football game, when the phone rang.
"Hello?" I asked, a shining example of originality.
"Yeah," said a voice on the other end, "Is Dimitia there?"
"Uh..." I fumbled. "What number were you trying to reach?"
"354-541 8," came the reply.
"Sorry," I said, "this is 5419."
"Oh," the man said. "Sorry."
"No problem." I hung up the phone.
The receiver hadn't been in the cradle more than a minute when it rang
"No," I said, picking up the phone, "Dimitia isn't here."
"Excuse me?" questioned the caller. "Is this Frank Shafer's Detective
Ooops. "Uh, yes. May I help you?"
"I would be interested in hiring your services. When may we get to-
gether?" Good thing I thought to have the calls from my office forwarded
"Well," I said, thinking quickly, "I should be free this afternoon."
"Alright," the beautiful female voice on the other end said, "I'll be there at
three." She hung up.
Oh, boy, that one sounded like a fox! Calling out to my wife that I was
going to work, I ran out to my 73 Nova and hopped in. Driving quickly, I
reached my office at 2:55 and ran to my door. Naturally, it said "Frank
Shafer, Private Investigator." I'm too much of a romantic for it to say
anything else. Now all I needed was a .45 to replace my Dad's police
revolver and a divorce to make me single again, and I'd be something out of
a Bogart movie.
I ran behind my desk, got in my chair, leaned back, and put my feet on
the table. If only I could say "sweetheart" the right way, I'd be set.
A quick knock came at the door, startling me out of my reverie. My first
client in two years and I was dozing off!
"Come in!" I cried in my best Bogart voice.
The door opened and a woman walked in. Whew! Ugly! She had
brown hair hacked off at shoulder length on one side and higher on the
other. She must have weighed all of about seventy pounds and had a
scrawny face. Horn-rimmed glasses, paisley jeans, and a tasteless hand-
bag rounded out the picture.
"Mr. Shafer," the woman said, "I'm Monda Harbonowitz. I talked to you on
What a letdown. She had the voice of a dream and the persona of a
"Hello." I managed. "What can I help you with?" I sounded like the
salesman at Sears.
"I have a little problem, Mr. Shafer."
Through an effort of will I managed not to point out that this was rather
"You see," she began, "my husband is missing."
Probably ran off. Actually despite my initial physical impression, she
seemed to be a fairly nice person.
"That really isn't up my aisle, Mrs. Harbonowitz. Have you tried the
"Yes," she replied, "they made a file and haven't contacted me since."
"How long ago was this?" I asked.
"About twenty years."
Things went rapidly downhill from there, and I agreed to take the case.
As soon as she left, I took down my trusty copy of Gerribaldi's Handbook of
Detecting. 37th Edition and looked under "Missing Persons."
"Missing persons," the text read, "is a job best left to the local police."
Gee, thanks, Gerribaldi. I threw the manual down in disgust and sat down to
Well, according to Mrs. Harbonowitz, her husband had worked at a local
meat packing plant, which was the last place he was ever seen. That,
naturally, would be the logical place to start. So, I hopped in my car and
drove on over to Foster's Meats, in search of Mr. Angus Harbonowitz.
Upon arriving, the first person I spoke to was a security guard, who took
me to see Aaron Antin, the oldest worker at the plant. "If anyone'l remember
Mr. Harbonowitz, it'll be Aaron!" he bragged.
"Hello, Mr. Antin," I began.
"Who are you?" demanded the old man.
"I'm Frank Shafer," I said. "A private investigator. I'm here to ask you
about an Angus Harbonowitz."
Suddenly, a cruel smile spread over Mr. Antin's face. I was about to ask
him what he was smiling about when a freight train hit me in the back of the
Actually, it wasn't quite that bad, just close. I woke up several hours later
in a freezer, with several human bodies. A quick check showed that they
were all dead, and I turned my mind towards getting out of there.
In front of me was obviously the door, but, naturally, there was no handle
on this side. I quickly went through my pockets, and discovered to my
complete astonishment that I still had my gun. Taking careful aim at where
the latch should be, I pulled the trigger. There was a loud report from my
pistol, and the door flew open.
Wanting to leave as soon as possible, I ran out of the freezer, into a
vacant hall. Using my directional instincts, I headed to the right. My
directional instincts were acting at normal efficiency tonight; I soon discov-
ered that this end of the corridor was a dead end. Except that there, just
barely in reach, was the sill of a window. After checking carefully to make
sure there wasn't anyone on the other side of it, I climbed up to the window.
Looking through it, I saw what appeared to be an office. Putting my
correspondence school training to work, I spent the next fifteen minutes
attempting to pick the lock of the window, and ended up breaking the pane
Once inside, I saw rows of filing cabinets. Out of curiousity, I went up to
the one marked "H" and tried to open it. Surprisingly enough, it was
unlocked. Inside I found a file on Mr. Harbonowitz. In the file was his hiring
date and employment history. The last entry, dated twenty years ago, read
"Put into beef stew."
Looked like I'd found something big. Going over to a nearby desk, I
picked up a phone and called the police. Upon their arrival, I was arrested
for breaking and entering, discharging a firearm in public, and, as I had been
mistaken for an employee, the murders of the 250,000 people in the files.
Thankfully, it was straightened out in the end. The owners and managers
got a total of over fifty thousand years in prison, and Mrs. Harbonowitz paid
me a large fee.
Later that summer, the mayor decided to give me an award for my
safeguarding of the common good. Most of the town turned out, and the
mayor and I stood on a large platform. As the mayor walked toward me,
medal in hand, he tripped. The medal flew out of his hands, and, executing
a ninety-degree in-flight turn, made a beeline for my head. Oh, well, I guess
that's just the story of my life...
In the morning I wake
And turn on the light.
The troubles we've
had linger in my mind.
The recent past has
brought to light
The real feelings in
Hemispheres of your
Sometimes I stay up
late at night
the vast spaces
Of the world.
I think of all the times
We've been together.
Good and bad.
But after all is said
During the daytime I
About the future and
It has in store for me-
The world is always
But one fact will
always remain the
By: C. Elizabeth Rodgers
"No Escape" is a short story
written in the form of James
Joyce's book, The Dublin-
ers . Throughout this book,
Joyce's stories contain
images and symbolism of
unending patterns which
the characters cannot stop.
The theme of The Dublin-
ers is the inability to es-
Kevin loudly placed the discoloured mugs of Guinness on the rotting
brown wooden table, where three ornery men were playing cards.
Because of the force the girl used to put down the mugs, the foam
overflowed onto their game.
— You half-wit girl, said one of the men, you damn near ruined our
But Kevin was beyond caring. In frustration, she decided to go into
the kitchen to get away from that stale, smoke-filled room, but the owner
followed and pulled her by her hair back into the tavern room.
For five of her eighteen years, she worked in this miserable tavern.
Because of his illness, her father was unable to work nine months of the
year. Clayton Stickle felt his daughter was robust and capable of
paying for her keep. He remembered that at age eleven he had to work
in the fields twelve hours a day so that there would be enough food on
the table for his eight brothers and sisters. Clayton's father had the
croup and was unable to work, so his mother earned their keep by
selling cockles and mussels.
Kevin walked along the foggy ominous waterfront of the River Liffey.
The violet sky was filled with a bright full moon and thousands of stars.
One night, she jumped over the railing along the river, but her smock
caught on a nail, and she instead was suspended along the balustrade
and ripped her gray threadbare dress.
At first, Kevin tried to work cheerfully in the dark dismal tavern. To
help her survive there, she began to fantasize a world in which she
would want to exist. In the tavern, she heard stories about the beautiful
dancers and singers and their feathery red and gold shimmering
costumes. The men always talked of the famous Colleen O'Kelley, the
rage of Europe. Kevin imagined touring with Colleen O'Kelley and
performing for the handsome Prince Martin of Wales. She longed to
hear the cheers from the multitudes of fans who would follow her.
Kevin's work in the tavern was not difficult, but she had to tolerate the
men groping for her. The owner, Griffin Fitzgerald, threatened to fire
her if she upset the customers. When she arrived at the tavern at five in
the afternoon, Kevin was able to eat some lamb stew leftover from
lunch, then had to work continuously until midnight.
In the first month of working at the tavern, Kevin had a customer who
had travelled to the Far East. This customer, Miles Clements, had
golden blonde hair, a near-white moustache, and a rosy glow about his
face. Miles told her stories of the customs and lifestyles of these
beautiful exotic places. Kevin learned of the majestic green mountains,
the jewelled palaces and the golden statues. For a week, Miles
Clements patronized the tavern to talk with Kevin. She was fascinated
by his stories, and at night could not sleep for she was busy dreaming
of living in a ruby-inlaid palace and travelling to many countries.
The time came for Miles to leave Dublin. Kevin begged him to take
her, for she longed to flee Dublin, the tavern, and her father. Without
Miles Clements' consent, she packed her few possessions for the
journey and hid them in the tavern's back room. At midnight, she
approached Miles Clements. He offered her a chair and some stout
and soda bread. Kevin excitedly told him of how she had always
thought of leaving this gloomy tavern. Miles sat in a dimly lit corner and
— Miles, I got my things gathered to go away wi'ya, said Kevin.
Miles half smiled at Kevin, flashing his white teeth, saying
— Poor miss, you can't come with me. I've a bride in Crosshaven and I
shan't leave her. She's a weak spirit and shn't exist without me.
— You bloody.. .buzzard! Get out of my sight!
After this experience, Kevin no longer trusted any man. Sometimes
she did accept their propositions, but only when she was in need of
money. Each night, the poor girl would detach herself from reality, and
sing to herself while working. Because Kevin's mother died in childbirth,
her father had to raise her. This was their first child, so Kevin had no
brothers or sisters. Clayton Stickle wanted a son to name after his
father, and named his daughter Kevin.
When Kevin was old enough, she regularly went to mass and
confession each week religiously. Her attendance at mass dwindled,
until she rarely went. Kevin began to lose all faith in God because,
though she knew it was wrong, she prayed for her father's demise. She
had always blamed her father for her miserable existence and often
dreamed of the day she would leave Dublin when he died. After her
incident with Miles Clements, something in her would not let her leave
As a child, Kevin put in many hours keeping their ramshackle cottage
so clean that it, in its own decrepit way, shined. During the late winter
and spring, her father was always in the fields, farming potatoes. Along
with two other men, Clayton worked on the many acres of Donald
Cronin, a wealthy landowner from Limerick who also taught at Trinity
College. Year after year, the men allowed the potatoes to remain in a
warm dark area to sprout eyes. When there were plenty of eyes, they
quartered and planted the potatoes. Clayton and the men carefully
tended the dark green stalks with the little white flowers in the dark-
coloured earth. For the three months that it took to nurture these white
treasures, Clayton was quite meticulous about matters at home and in
the fields. After the harvest, he consistently was nurtured by a flask of
Over the years, Clayton increasingly was more often drunk than
sober. When he drank too much, Clayton would have a short bout of
violence, then would retreat into his dark room and sleep off his
drunkenness. Many times when Kevin came in late at night, in the
darkness she could see the broken brown whiskey jugs from the light
that streamed in from the sides of the window shade. She quickly
cleared away the shattered glass for fear that in the morning her father
would blame her for the house's disarray. One night, Kevin had gotten
in from work shortly before dawn, and did nothing to straighten the
house. When Clayton awoke the next day, he woke Kevin up with fury
in his wide black eyes. He threw her off her pallet and shook her until
she could no longer stand. Kevin often remembered this and never
would forgive her father for it.
Clayton Stickle's liver ailment worsened and he became incapable of
leaving the house. His day consisted of drinking, eating, and intermit-
tently sleeping off his drunkenness. The worse Clayton got, the more
hope Kevin had. She felt this was her only escape. Out of her unper-
ceivable loyalty, she remained with her withering father and in her
unbearable confinement with him. There were several instances when
she thought he certainly would die. Kevin could never do anything to
induce his death, for she felt it had to be God's will to let her have her
freedom. She knew that if she did something to cause his death, God
would make her pay more penance. Clayton always said to her
— If it weren't for you, your ma would still be living today to take care
Whenever Kevin wanted to run away, she would remind herself of her
In late September, when Kevin left Mulligan's to walk home, gray
circling clouds hung low over the River Liffey. She was afraid to cross
the O'Connell Bridge for fear of being struck by a bolt of lightning. After
building up her courage, she made up her mind to traverse the bridge to
reach the east side. As she tried to make her way across, the winds
kept pushing her back towards the West. Kevin had to struggle violently
to cross, though she was tossed about by the violent wind force. When
she finally crossed the bridge, a great crash of thunder sounded behind
her. Kevin knew the open waterfront was not safe, so she frantically ran
home after falling several times in dark alleys between the houses. The
large raindrops violently spattered down on her raincoat and she shook
from a chill going through to her bones.
Lightning flashed ahead of her. It appeared to strike Nelson's Pillar,
but the lightning had no effect upon it. Kevin was petrified of lightning.
When at last she reached her dimly-lit house, Kevin felt a premonitory
chill as she walked into it.
Gingerly, Kevin walked into her father's small cubicle of a room. Her
father was lying in bed, wearing his dark church suit with a dilapidated
Bible opened to the Book of Psalms resting in his right hand. His placid
face was illuminated by the light seeping in from the window. He looked
younger than Kevin had ever seen him look. She felt helpless and fell
to her knees crying.
She always thought she could leave Dublin and start a new life away
from her past. When her father died after many years of her drudgery,
she thought this was her chance of escape. But a few days after his
death, she realized that she was in the family way by one of the paying
THE WESTERN FRONT
Soldiers in World War I reported how
horses torn by gunfire would live for
hours and days, stumbling about in
their own intestines.
Screaming horses shake the air
All a sun's day
Shrill tremolos the frantic
Toward the quarter moon
Rising their dark eyes are so
Round grains of their dying dust spread
Upon the hills in sodden
Prance rapt entangled by the gloss
Of glue-slick insides glistening silver
Day's light roped in slow spilling
Flesh they fall round and round circling
Staring down haunched upon thick mucous
Cushions of their emptying
The last scream implacable
In final moon dark
Starshafts tunnel each thick shriek
Continuum of grisly grace each
Last fire of noisome flesh
Thru ribs of night
Upon the hills
And rush of silence
Darkly the horses
Fall pinned sure by starlight softly
Steaming spongey flesh beneath them
Mounds the glut and suck
Into the last light
the hideously serene
By: Stacy Hooks
Mmmm. I'm thirsty. Andy and Fergie were getting married.
Must've dozed off. Damn, I wanted to see her dress.
So cold. Mama always turns the air on full blast. Wait, I did see her
dress. Made Di's look like a prom gown. The wedding was yesterday.
Hurts so bad. ..that's right, I had surgery this morning. Must be over.
Feels different from the other times. Always happened so fast before.
Feels like I've been asleep forever this time. I can't move. Wanna open
my eyes. Somebody get this mask off my face, hold the O.R. nurse
please don't put a mask on my face, I'm claustrophobic or something. I
told her. God, I can't talk. I can't see. Can't breathe. I don't think I'm
breathing. Must be in the morgue. I hear people mumbling. I must be
dead. God, I can't be dead, it'll kill Mama if I'm dead. They're mumbling
louder now.. ."notified the family. ..milligrams of morphine.. .of
Valium. ..tachycardia.. .units blood.. .oh sh'rt! she's wakin' up-- you said
she'd stay under 'til Thursday... I told her mother, you tell the
patient. ..when's the blood comin'? Can't wait til tomorrow, let me call
"Stacy, wake up, c'mon, wake up. How are you feeling?"
It's the doctor, the one who never wears socks. Guess they don't
come in scrub green. He's opening my eyes with his thumbs. Hope he
can't tell I'm laughing at him. Can't help it — he looks like Dr. Seuss.
He hates it when I call him that.
I'm glad nobody can hear me thinking.
"Stacy, you're awake now; squeeze my hand. We had a little bit of
bleeding, so we're going to ICU for a little while."
We? What'd he do, pick up the wrong end of a scalpel? This is
interesting. It's hysterical.
So this is ICU. They're all scurrying around like a bunch of green
mice. Even the nurse. But I like her. She's huge. Related to the Jolly
Green Giant by any chance? She's nice, though. She belongs here,
sort of an omniscient green mass. I think she's on my side. She's so
quiet, like she isn't supposed to talk. Guess most of her patients don't
have much to say. Where's my gown?
Well, hello big sister. Mama made you come.
I look terrible? I'm so pale? What have they done to my face?
How is it, Donna, that you always know exactly what not to say but you
say it anyway? Who is that? I don't believe it. I can't believe you
brought your fellow managers from Burger King to see me. I don't even
know them. They think I'm some kind of spectacle. They smell like
french fries. Greasy. I'm going to throw up. They don't belong here.
It hurts again. I need to sit up. What's this on my neck? Where
are these tubes coming from — me? I can't breathe. Nurse, I'm so glad
you're here. Hope you make them leave.
Better, thank you. How'd you know, is my brain on a monitor, too?
Thanks for getting rid of Burger Queen and her charbroiled court. She
never could act like a sister, but it's funny when she tries. Am I really
So you're here, Mama. Donna sneaked in when you went to the
bathroom. She said you told the doctor you weren't leaving the hospital
without me. That's funny. Did you really think they saved my life just to
get rid of you? Probably. I wish you'd stop faking. I know it's killing
you. And get rid of the cake-icing smile. If you want me to rest, why
don't you stop talking? I feel sorry for you, out there with the
charbroiled court — did they bring you a Whopper? You'll have to leave
soon; it'll be somebody else's turn. You think I look good?
Hello again, nurse. I knew you'd make her leave. I'm glad. She
wasn't funny and that scared me. Make her get some rest, will you?
So the preacher's here.
Do you always wear a suit? You probably sleep in one. Wonder
what you would look like in jeans and a three-day beard? Did you think
you had to come for God? He's already here, but thanks for coming
anyway. I wonder, what do you see?
What are you doning back so soon, nurse? Thought you just left.
Coming to see me or the preacher? Strange combination, you two.
There you are, looking at each other and thinking that if you just had a
little of the other's resources, you could pull me through. A nurse who
could work miracles with her medicine. A pastor kneeling at my bed,
praying for the medicine to work and the blood to get here soon.
Why are you taking the preacher outside the room to murmer and
shake your head at him?
That was quick, nurse. Why won't you smile? Do you really like
Well, well, it's Dr. Seuss. You still aren't wearing socks. Nurse
can't run you out, can she?
Oh please. Don't call me sweetheart. I'm sick enough already.
How do I feel? Do I need anything? You've been very worried
Go ahead, ask me questions, but I'm not talking.
You don't want me to worry about anything? If there's nothing to
worry about, then why am I in ICU?
You don't think I know what happened.
Don't listen to him nurse — we don't need a little something for
pain in here, and we don't need something to make us rest.
I guess he's got to talk to somebody; he's talking to me now. Says
they almost lost me in there. He tells me to rest, and for me please not
So you messed up, did you? Bet the chief of surgery really laid into
I'm pinching the IV tubing shut so the wonder drugs won't hit me just
yet. It's fun, lying here and watching you grovel.
Oh, let go of my hand, you idiot; that's the one pinching the IV. You
never even noticed it wasn't dripping.
You can keep the second dose for now, nurse. I won't be needi....
Dr. Corse. I'm glad to see you. Thought you'd never make it. Wish
you could have been my surgeon instead of just my doctor. This never
would have happened. Don't much blame you, though. Diabetes and
hemorrhoids are more predictable. You're almost a friend. This'll be the
first intelligent visitor I've had since I woke up.
You don't have to say anything. You're doing a bad job of looking
cheerful — give your face a rest.
Oh, good. He's going to see what they've done to my belly. I'm
kinda curious myself.
You're peeling the sheet away like a wet diaper.
Here comes the nurse. Not more morphine, I hope. She must've
been born with a syringe in her chubby little fist.
Wait, nurse, I want him to tell me what it looks like.
Must look bad. He has that look on his face that all doctors have
when they think they're hiding what they feel but they aren't — their
eyes and mouth fuse to their faces like cheese on a pizza.
I can always tell when you're tired, Dr. Corse; your eyes get red and
glassy. God, look at them. You must be exhausted. Funny, they didn't
look like that when you came in. Look at me. Wait a minute on the
shot, nurse, he hasn't told me anything yet. Wait. I thought you were on
my side, nurse, why wouldn't you wait? Don't look so doctory, Dr.
Corse. This is all a big fiasco, don't you know that? Don't leave yet, you
haven't told what it looks....
So it's over. I'm in a private room now. Wish that big green nurse
was here. The one that came in this morning got the IV tubing tangled
in the IVAC cord. Yanked it out. Bled so much I thought I was in for
another pint. Had to put the new one in my thumb, nowhere else left.
They won't yell at her, though. Even a bad nurse is hard to find these
They're back. Donna came in and woke me up to tell me she was
going to use my phone. Thank God it was in the middle of lunch rush —
the charbroiled court couldn't come. Mama was here, making sure I
knew what she'd been through and how much worse it was on her
health than it was on mine. Preacher came by, saying everyone'd be
praying for me. Dr. Seuss came by, said I'd picked up a little infection
— translated, that means staph — I heard him talking to the nurse in
the hall. Dr. Corse came by to thank me for the tomatoes I brought him
from my garden the day I was admitted.
Nobody said much. I guess dying people aren't interesting when
they aren't dying anymore. They came the first time out of curiosity
and, I think , also out of fear and relief — fear at the knowledge that
what happened to me could well have happened to them, and relief that
it didn't. Today, they came out of a sense of obligation. It's ridiculous.
In they came, single file, not to comfort, but to look. They're still uneasy
when they look at me now. And I'm still laughing at them.
One night the weather changes.
The disarming warmth
Of winter's late arrival vanishes,
Chilling the blood at last.
Dawn appears a dream-like sight
Of frozen shapes,
Like helpless creatures caught in
Shocked at their new state.
Thin, brittle fingers of ice
Fringe the leaves;
Each oak becomes a whitened
Laced with rime embroidery.
Tipped with countless icy tears,
The mournful pines bow down.
The sunless air cuts quickly through
Like a careless touch
Against a frigid pane.
This sudden frost has a familiar feel,
As when a warm-thought heart
I know that this strange arctic trance
Will pass — in time, redeeming
All captive forms returns
To some resemblance of the past.
Beyond each winter, Spring.
BELL HILL REVISITED
By: Patricia R. King
The announcement in the newspaper was on a middle page and I
almost missed it. If it hadn't been for the picture of the church beside it, I
might have. But I did see it, and stopped to read:
The annual service at the Bell
Hill Meeting House will be held on
the last Sunday of July. The choir
of the Harrison United Methodist
Church will offer musical selections
and the Rev. Samuel Birdseye from
the Congregational Church in
Bridgton will deliver the sermon.
The public is cordially invited to
attend this yearly event in this
historical landmark church.
Bell Hill Meeting House, Otisfield, Maine. I was propelled immedi-
ately back to the time when I was a child and we had acquired the
farmhouse across the road from that church. But what would the hilltop
look like now? It had been many years since I had visited that spot — in
fact, not since Mother had sold the house after Dad's death. I was almost
afraid to think of how it might look. I had carried that whole area around in
my mind, used it in the creative writing of articles and poetry, and recently
had begun work on a historical novel based upon my memories of that
place. Would Thomas Wolfe's book title of You Can't Go Home Again
apply? I wanted to find out.
So, on that year's last Sunday in July, I drove from Portland through
Raymond, Casco, Spurr's Corner, and up the steep road to the top of Bell
Hill. The church still thrust its spire into the sky, and the house was there
looking almost the same. The one-room red brick schoolhouse obviously
had been restored as a companion to the church. I parked beside a
blueberry patch, noting the cemetery huddiing in its familiar place across
the way. But there were intrusions: other houses had been built, and the
forest had climbed up the meadows so that the Presidential Range in New
Hampshire could no longer be seen from that vantage point. As I turned
to join others filing into the church I felt almost schizophrenic. The adult in
the here and now, I was at the same time the child, gazing familiarly at the
organ and the Duncan Phyfe table near the altar. I don't remember much
about that service, but afterwards a tall, shy, red-haired man approached
me and asked if I was whom he thought I was. Upon my affirmation he
told me he was Mark. And there right behind him were Betty and Richard.
No other kind of reunion could ever compare to what my childhood friends
and I shared that day. But after the excitement died down, I stayed behind
as the others straggled away. I needed time alone. I needed to be that
child again, just for a little while.
It is 1932. After much searching Dad finds the summer home he's
been looking for: a white clapboard house with an ell connecting it to a
barn. Built in the late 1700's, it anchors itself to the rocky soil and spreads
down to an adjoining field. Three oak trees stand sentinel on the front
lawn guarding the house as if it were a palace. Indeed, it feels like one to
this small person, for inside are rooms full of yesterdays including Ben
Franklin stoves, ladderback chairs, spool beds, and a schoolmaster's
stand-up desk. There are to be fourteen summers here, and during that
first one I am Columbus as I explore its nooks and crannies. Old trunks
groaning as they are pried open hold wispy lace dresses, stiff petticoats,
and shawls. There are books to read by the light of kerosene lamps, and
one closet is filled with old magazines. Here is a treasure trove waiting for
But the church beckons me. I feel like a trespasser as I turn the key
in the huge white door, so I tiptoe. I listen for sounds that aren't there.
How big the pews are, and they have doors on them that squeak when
you open them. Sunlight is a trespasser, too, as it filters through the multi-
panes of six huge windows. There is an organ, but I am too young to try it
out. I go out and sit on the large slabs of granite hewn for the steps of the
church. Dad comes but doesn't scold me for being there. Instead, he
offers me a trip to the tower of the church. It is a trip made precariously
because we must climb ladders. But even as young as I am I am aware
that what I am seeing is unusual. Dad points out the White Mountains of
New Hampshire on one side, a chain of lakes like a necklace of sparkling
crystals worn by the earth in honor of summer on another, and finally he
points to where three villages dot the landscape, precise in their bounda-
I want to visit the cemetery, so together we part tall grass ripe for
mowing and pry up the hook of its gate. There we find gravestones
bearing names like Hepzibah and Hannah leaning toward those marked
Benjamin and Amos. Squirrels scamper across the stone wall fences.
The leaves of elm and oak trees whisper in the wind. I squeal when a field
mouse darts across my shoes and I reach for Daddy's hand.
He walks me down to the schoolhouse and leaves me there. This is
the final stop on this first exploration. It is Saturday and even though the
school is still in use on weekdays, it now is locked and empty. But if I
stand on a piece of wood I can peer inside the windows to find wooden
desks lined up like soldiers standing at attention. Over against a far wall is
a blackboard, and beyond it is a large iron stove. I will visit the school
when it is in session and I will use it in a poem written after it had fallen
into the disrepair which would later be corrected.
The years have torn the one-room
school apart; under a gaping hole
which sucks the wind a chipmunk
skips across the slanted slate
that upright felt the squeaks and
pulls of chalk which children made
exploring truth. Now as the mist at
daybreak steps inside where chairs
lie rotting on the floor.the pages of
a reader rip away and scatter
through tall grass upon the hill, to
spread forgotten sentences against
So, while we were living there on Bell Hill, the child turns into an adult
who uses this reservoir of memories in ways unimagined at the time,
unaware that all of this was a gift I would be unwrapping for the rest of my
life. Here is a setting that can never be changed by physical alterations,
for it is safely tucked away inside inner realms where one can always go
home again. In this world characters leap to life. In this circumferential
domain they go in and out of the house, attend that church, send their
children to the school, and bury their dead. I think of words by Carson
McCullers in one of her novels: "The sense of the past grew in him.
Memories built themselves with almost architectural order." And Edith
Wharton wrote about "the low, rich murmur of the past." In the past and
present found at Bell Hill, child and adult mingle. They stir themselves into
prose and poetry whenever they are summoned, eager to provide the
stimulus for my creative future.
THERE IT STANDS
There it stands,
Its knarled fingers reaching into
the vast black sky.
Grasping and entrapping the stars
and the moon.
Eerily whistling a song
composed by nature.
There it stands,
Alone and drooping
Hunched over with melancholy,
as though stricken with grief.
Foreboding and haunting
Carved and shaped and sculpted
by the elements of time.
There it stands,
The lone oak tree in the corner
of the courtyard.
Shirley Annette Harrison
Ancient porch swing, lawn green, creaking on chains
Brittle with Chicago rust, it bears his
Grave weight, his eighty years, his mumbled song.
Sinking ito his ash-smeared lap, rooting
Into his barreled chest, I smell cigars
And clean sweat, then press my ear to Sweden
Rumbling strangely beneath his gray sweater.
A NURSE'S "WAR"
By: Kim Grier
My friend Joe, a Vietnam veteran, told me once about the method that he
and the other seasoned recruits used to determine the warworthiness of the
FNG's. Each incoming recruit was invited to accompany the soldiers on a
mission which was anticipated to be only mildly dangerous — they might
catch a little bit of fire and perhaps take a few hits, but they would not have
their backs against the wall. Under these conditions, the new man's reaction
was analyzed — if he wet his pants or climbed over the man next to him in
an attempt to flee, he was relegated to the motor pool. However, if he
possessed that certain quality which caused his brain to click onto auto-
matic, thereby allowing him to shoot people, he had passed what they called
the ultimate test. He was accepted into the ranks of those qualified to march
on the killing fields.
I work in a war zone, too: the Emergency Room at Memorial Medical
Center. I would like to say that I am a miniature Florence Nightingale,
gliding gracefully, cool and poised, from one life and death battle to the next
(winning them all, of course), with my presence making the difference
between total recovery or permanent damage, but the truth is that I am just
an aide, and besides, most of the events that take place in the Emergency
Room are not true emergencies anyhow. We spend a lot of time fighting
children who are bound and determined to kick our eyes out while the doctor
is stitching up thier lacerations, or losing the battle to keep all the trauma
rooms clean with sheets on every stretcher, or calming disoriented drunks.
Our weapons are ourselves — our personalities, what we say to our
patients, and how we treat them.
Most of the time, the limits of our excitement are the person with a cut
mimicking a red Niagra Falls, or the attempted suicide, unconcious and
issuing prodigious amounts of charcoal stools for us to clean (we use
charcoal to neutralize whatever substance the person has ingested). The
treatment for suicide is enough to deter me from ever trying it; the taste of
the charcoal preparation is so revolting that I have seen patients who, rather
than drink the charcoal, opt to have a tube that looks like a clear garden
hose inserted through their noses followed by a suctioning that is enough to
turn one's stomach inside out.
Every now and then, though, we are confronted with a true emergency,
and then a priorly- prepared battle plan kicks into action. As soon as we
receive the call that a protocol is on the way, doctors and nurses double-
time from all corners of the Emergency Room to assemble in tight formation
at the appointed trauma room. There we stand at tense attention, wonder-
ing how bad it will be. How hard will we have to fight to win this one? Will
we win it? My job, for the most part, is to stand in the corner and stay out of
the way, hoping and praying that, at a crucial moment, a doctor does not
mistake me for a nurse and rely on me to perform a procedure which I
cannot do. Once the patient arrives, the trauma room explodes like the
opening volleys in a battle — doctors shout orders, nurses scurry to assault
with IV's and drugs, and Foley catheters invade the bladder. I may make a
phone call here and there to summon the support troops, lab and respira-
tory, but the bulk of my job occurs after the protocol, when I attack the debris
left littering the battlefield, wading through pools of blood and reassigning
stained sheets to the laundry bag and mountains of paper, used bandages,
and opened suture trays to the garbage.
A couple of weeks ago, we received word that Medstar was about to
present us with one of these lovely protocols, and elderly lady bleeding from
every possible orifice. I was busy administering an enema in another area
of the E.R., so I missed being a participant in the opening wave of this lady's
battle. When I entered the trauma room, she was lying naked on blood-
soaked sheets in Trendelenburg's position (stretcher tilted so that her head
was way below her feet) while medical personnel darted and buzzed above
her like fighter jets, performing every life-saving procedure possible. I
wondered how her ancient body could withstand such an attack, much less
the ailment which originally brought her to us. Her skin was so fragile that
she bled wherever anyone had touched her just a little too forcefully. She
would be black and blue tomorrow, I decided — if she made it. What really
caught my attention, though, was the fact that she seemed very aware of
everything that was happening to her — she was neither senile nor so dopey
from loss of blood that the experience could be a merciful blur to her. She
was awake, terrified, and calling on Jesus to help her. Still her voice was
quiet and maintained.
I stepped out for a moment to go get a wheelchair for a patient stuck on
the outside deck of the E.R. He was a middle-aged man who was perfectly
able to get from his car to the wheelchair but mysteriously unable to walk ten
feet to the triage nurse. Once there, he refused to wait in line; he kept
insisting that he was short of breath and had to see a doctor right away. I
found it remarkable that he had enough breath to talk but not enough to
breathe. He was also unable to comprehend that there were other battles
more urgent than his alleged fight for air. I shoved him back into his place in
line and told him that he had to see the triage nurse before he could see a
doctor; everybody does (except protocols) and the sooner he settled down,
the sooner he could be seen. I felt like giving his wheelchair a firm kick in
the direction of the deck and watching him catapult into the parking lot.
On my way back to the trauma room, I contrasted the man I had just seen
and my patient who, although lying under the warming lights, was neverthe-
less growing colder and colder. Comparing their reactions to illness, I began
to devise other strategies to get rid of that jerk out there wasting perfectly
good oxygen on his worthless, no-good body. Recalling the oxygen mask
on my patient's face, I asked the nurse how she was doing. Before re-
entering the trauma room, she just shook her head and said, "The worst part
is that she knows she's dying."
I followed her. The intensity of the battle had diminished, but when I
applied the bio-psycho-social approach to patient care that I had learned in
nursing school, I realized that on the psycho-social battle front, there were
no troops. The doctors and nurses were so busy on the
biological front that none of them had stopped to give her any more than
token reassurance. No one was holding her hand or talking to her. For a
minute I was tempted to hang back and act like one of the cool profession-
als. After all, this would be highly irregular — to break rank as if I knew what
I was doing, and act independently. I would be out on a limb. I vacillated,
leaning against the smooth, cold security of the medicine counter, now
littered with empty bottles and bloody gauze sponges. Finally I gave in —
thinking of how I would feel if I were her age and dying, I worked up the
courage to go stand by her.
Her eyes sought mine. "Help me!"
I stroked her face and said, "They're working on you right now. We're
taking care of you. Try to relax if you can. I know you must be hurting bad."
I thought I sounded pretty stupid but her expression seemed to change
slightly. She said, "Don't leave me."
I assured her that I would not, and so it continued — she pleading and
me reassuring — until she could no longer ask for help because she had
vomited what looked like all the remaining blood in her body, and being in
Trendelenburg's position, she was unable to get it out of her mouth and
clean her airway. Now this was something way out of my league, and by
then I was the only other person in the room. Terror infused me as I turned
her head to the side and instinctively jammed the Younkers suction handle
into her mouth. What if she suffocated and it was my fault? Blood rattled
the suction tube on its way to the vacuum container as an eternity passed
before she could speak again. Then it was the same old thing: "Don't leave
me," and I did not.
I stayed late that night, accompanying Miss Maude to Med-Surg Trauma,
a section of the ICU. I had promised her that I would not leave her, and I
aimed to keep my word, so I stayed until she started to nod off. I touched
her shoulder and said, "Miss Maude, you're starting to fall asleep. Do you
mind if I go now?"
At first she said what she had been saying all evening long. Then she
looked at me one last time and said, "You're so young — you probably have
children waiting for you. Go on home and get some rest."
That is my final memory of her, for the next time I was working, I heard
that she died later that night, as we knew she would. Upon reflecting on her
and my short but intense interaction with her I was rather surprised to find
that I felt not grief but a sense of peace and satisfaction. I did not know her
well enough to miss her, but she had played a very important part in my life
— by allowing me to be with her during her death, she had provided me with
the opportunity to pass one of my ultimate tests.